I remember as a young boy in Puerto Rico dreaming about the idea of competing internationally. I was 16 years old with only four years of wrestling experience and I was already eager to test the skills that I had learned at the world level. Not having a clue of how long it would take me to wrestle at that level, I was willing to make the necessary sacrifices to temporarily leave my family and friends to reach this goal. With the help of my wrestling coach and others, I was linked to a family in Tampa, Florida willing to host me.
The hardest part was convincing my mother that I would be in a better system suited for better opportunities. After almost two month of begging, my mother was somehow convinced that I was up to something serious. She approved and away I went.
All alone and with a single piece of luggage, the airplane arrived at Tampa International Airport and all of a sudden it hit me that I knew nothing about the family I was supposed to live with. Determined to continue my new journey I waited, sitting next to the luggage claim area looking for someone to call my name. Then I met Mr. Grajales who later took me to meet my host family, the Joyces.
When I arrived at their house, I remember thinking that living with them was going to be a challenge for both parties since I spoke very little English and already their dog Ewok wanted to attack me every time he saw me. However, what at first seemed like an endless struggle turned out to be two of the greatest years of my life.
I have to thank Mr. Mike and Mrs. Debbie Joyce because they have three boys and literary added me as one more of their children. They spent countless hours trying to understand the little broken English I knew or the caveman-type of body language I used at times to communicate. They supported and traveled hours to see me wrestle as they did with their kids. In addition one of their sons, Ryan, spent many hours teaching me algebra at night.
Further, they drove me many times to church and to piano lessons. In fact, they bought me a beginner piano that I took to college and continued learning on later. Therefore, I thank them for their unconditional love, for their willingness to take the risks of having a boy with dreams, for becoming that miracle that I so desperately needed during that season of my life.
Like the Joyce family, there are other people who poured into my life. Do you remember people that loved, supported, and encouraged you through a season of your life? Why were they a difference maker for you?
If you have people that have poured out into your life, why not reach out and let them know how much you appreciate them. I know I need to do that more often because it reminds me of how fortunate I am. In addition, it reminds me of the growth I was able to experience during those seasons because of the time and resources they invested in me. Lastly, it encourages me to also pour into other people.