25908_000_009For years I wondered who I really was, but after I joined the Church I found the answer in unexpected ways.
When I was a baby, I was placed in an orphanage for newborns in New York. One of the nuns in the orphanage named me because there was no name on my birth certificate. A year later I was moved to another orphanage, where family members were allowed to visit on the weekends. But no one ever came to visit me, and I spent much time crying about that. Throughout my childhood I asked God, “Why don’t I have parents? Who am I?” I felt as though I was a child with no name, and I dedicated my life to finding out who I was.
Over time I learned my mother’s name and where she came from and that I had sisters and brothers. As an adult I moved to Arizona. I had long since changed my name from that which the nun had given me. I did not have Jesus Christ in my life, and Satan had a strong hold on me. I was dying spiritually. But in November of 1993, two Latter-day Saint missionaries taught me words of salvation. I was soon baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I later married a man who was a recent convert, and in 2002 we took a vacation to New York City to visit my daughters. While we were there, my daughter Cynthia experienced car trouble. She had lived in the city only a short time, and she did not know anyone to call for help. I told her to bring me a phone book, saying, “I belong to a worldwide church. We’ll find help.” I called the local stake president, and though he was not available, his wife assured me that she would send someone to help. She called back to tell us that she could find no men at that time of day but that a sister from her ward would be there soon.
When the sister, Lucy Selabria, arrived, she seemed a little hesitant about being surrounded by strangers. But since we were fellow Saints in need, she arranged for a tow truck and waited with us. We talked as we waited, and Lucy was soon comfortable. I noticed her accent and asked if she was Puerto Rican. She said yes and smiled when I replied, “So am I!” I told her my parents were from Aguadilla and was surprised when she said that hers were too. When Lucy told me her mother’s name was Modesta Lorenzo, my eyes opened wide. I explained that Modesta Lorenzo was also my mother’s name.
“Wait a minute,” Lucy said. “What did you say your name was?” I had introduced myself by the name I normally go by, but now I told her that I had been given the name Lucrecia Lorenzo as a baby in an orphanage. Before I could finish my sentence, Lucy’s hands came to her face and she started to cry. “You are the one! You are the sister we have been looking for all of these years!” Lucy and I hugged each other and cried. She told me about my other sisters and brothers. I could hardly believe that I had a family now! And what was even more unbelievable to me was that my sisters Lucy and Michelle and their families were also members of the Church. In all, 13 of us had found the Church.
After taking care of the car, Lucy took me to her home to meet my nieces and show me pictures of my family. She explained to me that years back our mother had told the family she had other children who had been placed in orphanages and foster homes. The children still at home had been determined to find all of us, and I was the last to be found. As I looked through the pictures, my heart filled with emotion. I was looking at the faces of my mother and my siblings! I finally knew who I was.
It is amazing to see God’s hand at work. In a world so large, with billions of people, I found my family because of the Church and a broken-down car in New York City.
“We know the family to be eternal. … Oh, brothers and sisters, families can be forever! Do not let the lures of the moment draw you away from them! Divinity, eternity, and family—they go together, hand in hand, and so must we!” President Spencer W. Kimball, “Families Can Be Eternal,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 4, 5.