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"I wasn't going to see 24. I wore a smile to hide the pain of existing, the emptiness of taking up space. Nothing I did mattered. Just an overwhelming sense of my nothingness. A fog I couldn't see through, a night with no end.
I had plenty of distractions, plenty of destructive coping mechanisms. The things I would use to distract me from myself just made me hate myself more. No amount of anything would fill the void. Being full but feeling empty is a weird place to be.

I had known my problem though. I had walked away from my Father and expected to find happiness everywhere else. Year after year I'd say, "this is it, I'm going to get it together. Fitness, finances, family and faith!" Yet, somehow with all the gusto I had going in, I'd fall right back into the same trap. Failing again and again.
That's where my problem was, I suppose. No supposition really, the problem was that I thoughted I needed to clean myself up before I could come home. I thought cleaning up the pig sty would make me less of a pig. What I had forgotten is that I was a son.
It took a pandemic and a week or so alone to understand what my trajectory was. I didn't want to die, but existing without meaning was just as bad. As I lay in bed the question, "why are you here?" repeated in my head with a growing intensity. There was an urgency behind the question and I didn't have an answer. All I could do is cry out and say, "I don't know why I'm here but I want you to show me."
I remembered that I was a son. I remembered that I had a loving Father waiting to welcome me back home. With all my failures and flaws, He still loved me for who I was and who I was meant to be. The only way I would have come home is if I gave up the fantasy of cleaning up my pig pen.
From there, it's been a journey of learning how to live like a son again. There are times when I doubt if I've been truly accepted. My Father is always there to reassure me of His love. Times when the pig pen feels more like home, but He keeps reminding me that He is home. Learning to live like a son again is hard, but every step is worth it. 
I just wanted to share some of my journey; I'm not at the finish line, but I'm still in the race. I've lost 140 lbs. with 50ish to go. My whole lifestyle changed, only one normal sized meal a day, mainly vegan diet and a job that keeps me moving a lot. 
My progress should be more, but I'm extraordinarily blessed by the progress as it is."

Derryl, a NY Conference youth


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So as I sit here at Camp meeting in Union Springs, New York, I am very thankful. I honestly did not think I would be here. I’m not talking about campmeeting but alive.

As most of you know who watched my miracle story video.  I explained how I was in stage 4 liver cirrhosis due to an illness I have. No good news came from this news. I had two doctors confirm and the end result was basically death.

Surgery was not a option and nothing else could help even a rapid diet change. All avenues closed for me and the doctors just said sorry.

While I began to set up things for the end result for my family. My wife and I prayed and just left things in God's hands. We did our part with prayer and lifestyle change in diet for me and looked up many things that could help my condition. I will say I received great benefits from the diet. I could walk again and breathe better and all around I lost weight and felt better.

A month or so after the diagnosis I had a procedure to look at my liver more closely to see how bad it was and to my astonishment, the phone rang and my liver doctor told me he doesn’t know what’s going on but nothing is wrong with my liver and all the scarring and cirrhosis is gone. My response to this man was praise God. And after he talked a little bit I had to ask again and reaffirm that he told me there’s nothing wrong. He said yes and we will be in touch.

I bring this out because I saw my life ending and then I had another chance. I believe God has plans for me and my family that I have not found yet. I’ve seen some doors open possibly but nothing concrete as of yet.

I never thought I would make another campmeeting or see my wife’s family again. Yet here I am because of God and some generosity of others. It could be God kept me here for my family or maybe because of someone here. I don’t know but all I can say is I’m trying to be as faithful as I can and step into any door that is presented because this might be why I was given a second chance at life.

I’m so thankful to be alive and be a living testimony for God. And I pray that everyday I can be more faithful and appreciative of everything around me.

As I walk the grounds of campmeeting I’m very thankful for life and another chance and that I could be in this place with fellow believers. Take time out friends for the things that really matter and don’t get distracted with the things that don’t.

Rey Chavez


Several years ago I was very impressed by a presentation I saw regarding the benefits of a whole foods, plant based diet. Although I had always been interested in eating in a healthy manner, my diet at the time was not consistently healthy. I was suffering from various small health issues which were becoming more and more bothersome. II decided on a plan of action. For two weeks I would eat only a whole foods, plant based diet, and then evaluate how I felt and if I wanted to continue with the new diet.

I was encouraged by reading this guidance from Sister White:

"Again and again I have been shown that God is trying to lead us back, step by step, to His original design - that man should subsist upon the natural products of the earth." 
~Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 119, 1890.

"Vegetables, fruits, and grains should compose our diet. Not an ounce of flesh meat should enter our stomachs. The eating of flesh is unnatural. We are to return to God's original purpose in the creation of man." ~Manuscripts p. 115, 1903.

"Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet."
~Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 119, 1890.

"Butter is less harmful when eaten on cold bread than when used in cooking; but, as a rule, it is better to dispense with it altogether. Cheese is still more objectionable; it is wholly unfit for food." ~CD p. 368

"Our fare is simple and wholesome. We have on our table no butter, no meat, no cheese, no greasy mixture of food...All who sit at my table express themselves as being well satisfied with the food provided." ~Letter 62, 1903

"Grains and fruits prepared free from grease, and in as natural a condition as possible, should be the food for the tables of all who claim to be preparing for translation to heaven." ~Testimonies for the Church, 352, 1869.


I began my dietary changes. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed my food. Although I missed some foods, especially when eating in a restaurant or in a social setting, I was determined to keep strictly to my new diet for the two week testing period I had decided upon. I soon noticed some changes which I very much enjoyed - I had more energy, I slept better, and I was less moody.

The days flew by, and, at the end of two weeks, unwilling to lose my newfound energy, and I decided to extend the test for two more weeks. I soon found myself at the end of my 4 week testing time. As I reflected back over the previous weeks, I realized with shock that a painful recurring problem I had been experiencing had not occurred at all during the weeks since I had changed my diet. My enjoyment of life had increased, and somehow, eating a healthy diet gave me a huge sense of well being and satisfaction, knowing that I was giving my body what it needed to heal, repair, and be healthy. I chose to keep a whole foods, plant based diet. After I had been on the diet for a year, I had another major healing event. A constant, painful condition that I had struggled with for seven years suddenly healed, and it has never returned. I praise the Lord that all the guidance He gives us is only for our benefit and our best good.

~A New York Conference member

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