YEAR BORN: 1950
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: SPAIN
HISTORY: CATHOLIC NUN
When I was born, my parents had a small farm in a rural village in Galicia, northwestern Spain. I was the fourth of eight children. We enjoyed a warm atmosphere at home. At that time in Spain, it was common for at least one of the children in a family to enter a seminary or a convent. In our family, three of us took that step.
At the age of 13, I joined my sister in a convent in Madrid. The environment in the convent was impersonal. Friendships did not exist—only rules, prayers, and austerity. Early in the morning, we gathered in the chapel to meditate, although my mind often went blank. Later, we sang religious songs and celebrated Mass, all in Latin. I understood virtually nothing and felt as if God were far away from me. My days passed in strict silence. Even when my sister and I would meet up, we could merely say, “Hail purest Mary.” The nuns allowed us only half an hour to talk after meals. How different from my happy family life back home! I felt isolated and often wept.
Although I never felt close to God, I took my vows and became a nun at the age of 17. Really, I just did what was expected of me, but soon I started questioning whether I actually had a religious calling. The nuns used to say that those with such doubts would end up in hellfire! Still, my doubts lingered. I knew that Jesus Christ had not isolated himself; rather, he kept busy teaching and helping others. (Matthew 4:23-25) By the age of 20, I had no clear reasons to remain a nun. Surprisingly, the mother superior told me that if I was at a crossroads, I had better leave as soon as possible. I suspect she feared that I might influence others. So I left the convent.
When I returned home, my parents were very understanding. But since there was no work in our village, I migrated to Germany, where one of my brothers lived. He belonged to an active Communist group of expatriate Spaniards. I was at ease among those people who fought for workers’ rights and equality for women. So I became a Communist and eventually married a member of the group. I thought I was doing something useful, handing out Communist literature and engaging in protest marches.
In time, however, I again became discouraged. I felt that Communists often failed to practice what they preached. Those misgivings were reinforced in 1971 when some young members of our group burned down the Spanish Consulate in Frankfurt. They did that to protest against injustice in dictatorial Spain. But I believed this was the wrong way to express indignation.
When my first child was born, I told my husband that I was going to stop attending Communist meetings. I was very lonely because none of my former friends visited me and my baby. I wondered about the purpose of life. Was it really worth making an effort to improve society?
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
In 1976, two Spanish Witnesses knocked at our door and offered some Bible literature, which I accepted. On their second visit, I began to fire questions at them about suffering, inequality, and injustice. I was surprised when they used the Bible to answer every question! I readily accepted a Bible study.
At first, my interest was just intellectual. But things changed when my husband and I started attending meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. By that time, we had two children. The Witnesses kindly picked us up and helped care for our children during the meetings. I developed warm feelings toward the Witnesses.
Even so, I still had some religious doubts. I decided to visit my family in Spain. My uncle, a priest, tried to discourage me from studying the Bible. But the local Witnesses helped me greatly. They answered my questions from the Bible, just as the Witnesses in Germany had. I resolved to resume my Bible study when I returned to Germany. Although my husband decided not to continue studying the Bible, I followed through with my resolve. In 1978, I was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED:
Accurate knowledge of Bible truth has given me clear purpose and direction in life. For example, 1 Peter 3:1-4 encourages wives to “be in subjection” to their husbands “with deep respect” and to cultivate a “mild spirit, which is of great value in the eyes of God.” Such principles have helped me to fulfill my role as a wife and mother.
Some 35 years have passed since I became a Witness. I feel happy to serve God as part of a true spiritual family, and I am delighted that four of my five children do likewise.