My childhood was a mixture of school, play, and work—in Mexico, it is possible to work at all ages. In those days, I went to school only half a day. When I was eight, I worked with my mother as an actor in a weekly radio program. I made plastic Christmas poinsettias when I was nine. When I was ten, I worked at a dry cleaners. I went around the streets on my bicycle, asking for clothing to be cleaned. And when I was fourteen, I sold booth stalls at a fair.
The first step in school was primary school. In my third year, I received a special prize for being the best student of the school. But when I was older and in high school, I was not so good.
I played baseball, which I liked very much, and I played every day. Because I was very small, the mitts were too large. At that time in Mexico, we didn’t have small gloves, only big ones, so I used a big one. My middle finger is short now because I broke it many times playing baseball. I would just put a bandage around it and keep playing. My coach said, “When Horacio catches that ball, it never falls. It may be that the ball will knock Horacio down, but Horacio never drops the ball.” I played shortstop, catcher, and pitcher. I think that I was a good pitcher, because I had one game with no runs and no hits. I also played American football, but I had problems because I was so thin. I was hit very hard many times.
Even so, I realized then that nothing was impossible to do, if I wanted to do it. I think that I learned that lesson from my mother. She was a very special person. She worked in advertising in Mexico when only a few women worked for companies.
My grandfather was a military general during the Mexican Revolution. He was a very, very hard man, but he loved me. He taught me love for my country and for my flag. Every September we celebrated Mexican Independence Day at my grandparents’ home. We had a big dinner on September 15, then went to the parade on September 16.
I remember staying at my grandparents’ big house. They ate five meals a day. For breakfast, they had only hot chocolate and bread. Lunch was about eleven o’clock, and it included bread, meat, and beans. Dinner was at two or three o’clock in the afternoon. Supper was not until eleven at night. Children did not stay up for it.
Children in Mexico were taught to be respectful toward adults. I remember that at a reunion, children could attend only if they were invited. If a child wanted to talk, he had to ask permission.
The Lord preserved me in my years on the earth. When I was two, I had amoebas in my stomach. These microscopic animals in my stomach made holes in my intestines. The doctors said that I didn’t have a chance to live, but I got well and was all right.
Another time, my uncle, who was only three years older than I was, put me in a baby carriage and took me for a walk around the house. In front of the house was a road, and on the other side of the road was an irrigation canal. When he took me across the road, the carriage slid into the canal. It was empty at that time, but my uncle couldn’t get us out. My mother felt concern for me and began to call me. Then she looked for me in the house but couldn’t find me. She felt prompted to look on the road and in the canal. She found us and got us out of the canal just before the water started to come through the canal. Had she not listened to the Spirit, my uncle and I would have drowned.
We must realize that God lives and, as our Father, loves us. He doesn’t want us to suffer any harm. I testify that our Teacher, our Shepherd, is Christ, our best Friend, who clears up all our doubts. He heals our wounds and turns our pain into sweet experiences.