Devotional ~ Nobody quite like Yesenia…. I first met her in the Nooksack A.C. Church when I began as a young pastor, and Yesenia was in the Youth group. I have always appreciated her honesty… her boldness… her desire to be her own person. I have never forgotten early on how Yesenia explained to me that she was not ready to be a Christian because she knew that that meant changes and she wasn’t ready to make those changes…. Fast forward 27 years. Hospice house for two months… especially the first month when she had a measure of strength. As we listened to her talk about Jesus Christ and eternal life, she said she’s always struggled with wanting to do things her way, wanting to be a good person, but she had learned to accept that eternal life is only because of God’s grace. We cannot be good enough.
As boldly as I can…Listen to the scripture. READ Eph.. 2:4-5, 8-9. Hear the word of God: The only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ… Yesenia Rios came kicking and screaming to Christ… It is impossible to be good enough. Yesenia tried it and had to conclude at the end of her life that it did not work. Salvation is based entirely on God’s amazing love, his patience with us, he never gives up on us. As I talked to Yesenia I asked her what she wanted the world to know. She spoke of God’s love, his grace, his mercy. She said her prayers were especially for her boys. What do you want me to tell them? “Never give up on God” she said. Read the Bible and if it doesn’t make sense keep on trying she said, but she struggled with the word trying because it is not about trying it is about letting go of your tendency to earn salvation, to be a good person. It is part of the mystery of Christ and being a Christian, it is to at last let go and let God fill us with his spirit, to change us from the inside out. Don’t give up. God refuses to give up on us. Receive the greatest gift imaginable: Salvation from Christ.
One of my favorite scriptures is Eph. 2:10: READ. Any good works we do as Christians is a response to our salvation, not a condition. As Christians we live out God’s purposes…The promise of God is that when we finally allow him into our lives, he creates us into his masterpiece, “God’s handiwork.” I so much enjoyed spending time with Yesenia these past few months. You probably don’t feel this way, but I got so used to her without hair that when I now see a picture of her with hair it doesn’t look right! I saw the beauty of the Spirit of God in her. I saw tears of joy, moments of wanting to get up and go back to life, I saw a desire to live but an acceptance of death. I saw in Yesenia, a wonderful story of God’s Grace. Amen. ~ Pastor Carl Crouse
Song: Intro… she appreciated the hymns… Blessed Assurance #643
Tribute: Yesenia was born in Downey, CA on Nov. 4, 1974. I asked her parents if anything stood out… she was a crybaby said Caroline, she cried for two years straight! But she was a good girl. Caroline said that for a time she took her older brother Chris to a pre-school, Yesenia came along, and because the drive was a bit too long, she’d stay for the half day, and at two years old Yesenia would be content playing in the sand. Truthfully, Yesenia was a complex person of extremes… quiet, but not really… I think she was a thinker. Even at a young age independent, nobody ever told her what to think or do… Yesenia’s early years were in East L.A. One of the postives was getting to know her great grandmother.
The Rios family moved to Whatcom County when Yesenia was five years old. Caroline’s mother, brothers and other family were here. For a brief time in Sumas, her first teacher in Kindergarten was Joyce Galloway Muholovich. The family then moved to the Pollinder Rd in Lynden, small property. The Lynden School district was not so great for Yesenia. She told me she thrived in those days more at home, doing stuff on the property. Walking. Hanging out. An awesome dog.
But she was a determined, hard worker. She really like Alan and Kirsten Shore at the Nooksack Church. One day when Yesenia was nine she got a call from Kirsten: “Missing anyone?” Yesenia had ridden her bike on the back roads all the way from their home in Lynden to Nooksack…
Back to Sumas when Yesenia about 12. Lots of friends. All kinds of trouble. Bobby and Caroline said they still don’t want to know all she did! Yesenia was a brilliant girl, but just not into school, so not a great student. In fact, for a time, Caroline was so frustrated with Yesenia’s adverse relationship with school she yanked her out at age 14 and let her work at Loo’s restaurant in Sumas. Yesenia was a worker… She really never quit working. Many people know her from El Nopal’s… for a time she worked at the Lone Jack after hours… she always earned enough to pay her share.
Biking was a love. Bobby will forever remember the long bike excursions with Yesenia. As she got older, a 60 mile trek was nothing…Caroline tells of the time Yesenia decided to enter a support Ride from Seattle to Portland (?) very little training because she was so busy. Her mother kept telling her she won’t be able to do it… stubborn Yesenia, that’s all she needed, over 200 miles and she was fine.
Ana described her older sister as the wild one of us! Outgoing. Yesenia had a boldness. She was fearless. Kareokee for example. I asked about her tattoo on her arm… she told me it was an ant, like her father’s tattoo, her father explained how the ant is a hard worker, and I’m a hard worker like the ant. Yesenia got her own tattoo to be like her father and because she shared the same work ethic. That’s true. But then she got a twinkle in her eye and said, “But my ant is dressed up in a party gown because I like to party, too.” And she did. A hard worker who liked to have a good time…
Chris and Yesenias personalities were night and day. Not a lot in common!
A few words about Charlie. She was young when she became pregnant. Talk about boldness, she decided to place her baby in an adoptive home. I was honored to go the hospital, dedicate the child while in Yesenia’s arms, then take the child and put into the arms of the adoptive parents….
Yesenia was married to Greg ten years. She spoke well of him. Thankful that Jake is with his father. She spoke well of Robert, wanting nothing but the best and blessing him to grow and find his way and she can only envision the best. She prayed for her family, her boys.
Yesenia also loved her nieces. I got to see her hold Emma…
And her father Bobby. He was realistic. Sure he knew she was the wild one. At times in her life she needed to settle down. He didn’t always understand her sloppy wardrobe, driving all the way from Ferndale to Sumas in a bathrobe. But he said none of that mattered, none of that mattered. The bottom line is that he loved Yesenia above all else. Perhaps Yesenia saw in her own father’s love for her, a glimpse of the great love of God, unconditional love with great expectations but accepting her just as she was.
Thank you Lord for Yesenia Rios… (Pastor Carl Crouse)
Promises of God
Salvation and eternal life with God sound so easy:
- Prov. 3:5-6 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; is all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
- 2 Cor. 5:17 ~ If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here.
- Job 41:2-6 “I know you can do all things, no purpose of yours can be thwarted…surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
- Titus 3:4-5a, 7 ~ But when the kindness and love of God our savior appeared, he save us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of his mercy…so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
- Rev. 1:5 ~ Jesus Christ is…the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead…who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.
- Rev. 22:17, 20-21 “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and le the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life…He who testifies of these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen, Come Lord Jesus. The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.
Committal: In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we commend to Almighty God, Yesenia Isabel Zavala Rios. May the Lord Bless her and Keep her and make his face shine upon her. Amen.