Determined to Achieve My Goal
AS TOLD BY MARTHA CHÁVEZ SERNA
One day when I was 16 years old, I lost consciousness while working at home. When I came to, I was in bed. Confused, with an intense headache, I could neither see nor hear for several minutes. I was frightened. What had happened to me?
MY WORRIED parents took me to a doctor, who prescribed vitamins. She said that the seizure was due to keeping late hours. A couple of months later, I suffered another convulsion, and then, a third. We consulted another doctor, who thought that I had a nervous condition and gave me tranquilizers.
However, the seizures became more and more frequent. I would lose consciousness and fall and hurt myself. I sometimes bit my tongue and the inside of my mouth. On regaining consciousness, I had terrible headaches and nausea. My whole body was in pain, and I was frequently unable to recall what happened prior to the seizure. To recover, I often needed a day or two of bed rest. Even so, I believed that this problem was temporary—that soon I would be all right.
Effect on My Goals
When I was much younger, my family began studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our teachers were two special pioneers, or full-time ministers who devote a great many hours each month to teaching Bible truths to others. I could see that the ministry of those pioneers gave them joy. As I spoke to my teacher and schoolmates about Bible promises, I began to feel that joy too.
Shortly, many of my family became Jehovah’s Witnesses. How I enjoyed preaching the good news! By age seven, I had set a goal of also becoming a special pioneer. At 16, I took a large step toward that goal when I was baptized. Then the seizures began.
Despite my physical problems, I still felt that I could become a full-time minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But since I was having up to two seizures a week, some in the congregation thought that I should not take on such a heavy responsibility. I felt sad and discouraged. In time, however, a married couple serving at the branch facilities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico came to our congregation. They learned of my desire to be a pioneer and gave me much encouragement. They convinced me that my illness need not stop me from pioneering.
So, on September 1, 1988, I received my appointment as a regular pioneer in my hometown of San Andrés Chiautla, Mexico. I spent many hours each month preaching the good news. When I could not preach publicly because of a seizure, I wrote letters on Scriptural topics to people in the area and thus gave them written encouragement to study the Bible.
My Condition Diagnosed
At this time my parents, at great financial sacrifice, took me to a neurologist. This doctor diagnosed my condition as epilepsy. Thanks to the treatment I then received, my illness stayed under control for some four years. Meanwhile, I was able to attend the Pioneer Service School, where I received encouragement that increased my desire to serve where there was a greater need for evangelizers.
My parents knew how much I wanted to expand my service. Since my illness was more or less under control, they allowed me to go to Zitácuaro, in Michoacán State, some 125 miles [200 km] from home. Associating with other pioneers in that assignment helped me to treasure the full-time service even more.
After two years in Zitácuaro, however, the seizures returned. I went back to my parents’ home, frustrated and sad and in need of medical attention. I went to a neurologist who determined that the treatment I was using was damaging my liver. I began looking for alternatives, since we could no longer pay for consultations with the specialist. My condition was getting worse, and I had to quit pioneering. Every seizure was a setback. But when I read the Psalms and turned to Jehovah in prayer, I felt his comfort and strength.—Psalm 94:17-19.
My Goal Realized
During my worst phase, I had two seizures a day. Then I reached a turning point. A doctor gave me a specific treatment for epilepsy, and I began to feel better for longer periods of time. So on September 1, 1995, I again took up the pioneer service. My health remained stable, so after two years without a single epileptic seizure, I applied to serve as a special pioneer. That would mean spending even more time in the ministry and going to serve wherever I was needed. Imagine how I felt when I received my appointment! I reached the goal that I had set as a child.
On April 1, 2001, I began my new assignment, at a settlement in the sierra of Hidalgo State. Now I am serving in a small town in Guanajuato State. I have to be very careful about taking my medication and getting sufficient rest. I am careful with my diet, especially when it comes to fats, caffeine, and canned foods. I also try to avoid strong emotions, such as anger or excessive worry. But this strict routine has brought me benefits. During my service as a special pioneer, I have suffered only one seizure.
Since I am single and without family responsibilities, I am delighted to continue serving as a special pioneer. I find comfort in knowing that ‘Jehovah is not unrighteous so as to forget our work and the love we show for his name.’ How loving he is, for he does not demand what we cannot give him! Accepting that truth has helped me balance my thinking, for if poor health forced me to stop pioneering again, I know that Jehovah would still be pleased with my whole-souled service.—Hebrews 6:10; Colossians 3:23.
Without a doubt, sharing my faith with others every day strengthens me. It also keeps uppermost in my mind the blessings God has in store for the future. The Bible promise is that in the new world, there will be no sickness, “neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things [will] have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4; Isaiah 33:24; 2 Peter 3:13.
[Pictures on page 26]
About 7 years of age (above); about 16, shortly after I was baptized
[Picture on page 27]
Preaching with a friend