A Latin-American Woman Converts (Part 2)
Sarah Paez Gonzalez found herself drawn to the rhyming poetry of the ‘book’ that the Iraqi father of her children would read to them and after a close brush with death she began to search for meaning in her life. After a moment of confrontation in a gas station parking lot she found a new path opened and her story continues…
During this time the US had attacked Iraq and my spirit was in turmoil and devastation. I felt this closeness with and obligation to defend Muslims. I never questioned my feelings, all I saw was that they were children of God being attacked and my heart ached.
I drove home and before I went to sleep my Nanny told me something very strange: "You look like some people I used to work for; I don't remember what they were but you have their face. I will try to remember and tell you tomorrow."
I laughed and went in my room and I kneeled before God in prayer saying, "I have come to a cross road, which way do I go? There is only one right way, please lead me to it. I have decided to either become Jewish or Muslim. Give me a sign — whoever opens their heart and door I will enter."
As I woke up the following day, my Nanny came in my room and said, "Now I know! You look like those women who cover — those that come from the Middle East; the Muslims."
My heart was filled with anxiety and yet I smiled and nodded "Aha, I see."
That evening I had a meeting with a man I had met on the Internet who owned a bio-tech distributing company and wanted to meet me for dinner at "El Toritos" in Irvine to discuss our prices since we were a manufacturing company. I wanted to close the deal so I wore my best suit and snapped a few buttons down to show my cleavage.
He was about 15 minutes late to our meeting and during that time I waited along with a group of Asians and among them was a Muslim girl. Their party was seated first, shortly after my potential client arrived.
As we were to be seated, I remember walking down the step and even though normally when I would walk into a room full of people I would simply see heads and no faces.
Yet, as I was walking down the steps the Muslim girl stood out from the crowd. In complete rebellion I questioned her merits: what was she doing at "El Torito"?
I was certain that she had a drink next to her but I walked passed her slowly and, to my surprise, saw that it was only an orange juice. I felt terrible for accusing her with out reason.
I had the meeting with my client, who turned out to be a Muslim, and we ended up having a small discussion on religion right at the end where he talked about the beauty of Islam. Once more I felt this anxiety and shame as I drove home; I felt in the nude in the presence of God and I began to fear his wrath.
I got home, kneeled down, and prayed. I knew that each consecutive day had been a different sign yet they all lead to the same truth and nation. I remembered the prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) who was told by the Angel Gabriel (Jibril) that God would bestow grace and salvation on his seed and he would create two great nations.
I remembered my father had told me that if I had been born a man he would have called me "Ismail." I had always linked my self to Ismail's nation and questioned why they were not as talked about in the Bible.
I asked one last sign from God: my mother. It was going to be so hard to tell her I would become a Muslim that I said to God, "If she says no to me, I will go to San Diego and be baptized in the name of the prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), even though I believed he was only a Messenger, and try my hardest to feel that I am in the right place."
I picked up the phone and dialed. My mother was so happy to hear from me and then I informed her that I was going to convert and that I needed her blessing.
She was ecstatically happy and proceeded to tell me that it did not matter what Protestant Church or Evangelistic Church I converted to because they were all the same and had the same purpose in mind.
I told her it was not a Christian Faith. She then went on saying how I had warned her since I was a child that I would never convert into a Protestant or Evangelist Church because I was going to become a Jew.
I then quietly informed her that I was going to convert into the Muslim Faith. She was soundless for only about 2 minutes yet it felt like 10 minutes.
Subsequently she began a story:
"When I was with your father I felt that God had forsaken me and there was no hope. Your father was so strict and harsh that my heart was broken by his treatment and I asked God for a sign that He was still with me.
"I had a dream that I was standing at the edge of the side walk and as I turned to my left I saw a group of women in white tunics all walking towards the east. I asked if I could walk with them and they said "no, you must wash your feet with laurel leaves."
"I told them I would do anything if they would take me with them. They looked like those women who cover — the women on T.V.; maybe one day, I will follow you."
My spiritual journey had finally come to an end and a serene feeling overtook me as my decision had arrived at a new turning point.
My conversion did not happen right away. It was very difficult to have people really take me seriously as all my friends were Catholic and my family was Protestant. I reached out to a Muslim friend in Los Angeles and he told me that he did not discuss religion and was disturbed by my questions.
As the year followed I kept praying. I went to the Mosque on Balboa not knowing if it was a Muslim mosque, yet it was so late in the evening that they did not give me too much information.
My mother at the time was diagnosed with cancer and at the same time a friend had asked if I would take him to his surgery and take care of him afterward. It was overwhelming when I said yes because my mother's surgery was 4 days later. I was at the hospital waiting for my friend's surgery to be over and I went for a walk to clear my mind.
I went to a Jewish store to buy something for my mom and the Jewish clerk felt the sadness and agony I was enduring and told me she would pray for us that Friday. I asked my only Muslim friend at the time for prayers as well so I had Jews, Christians and Muslims praying for my mother.
The day of the surgery my mother was prepped and 30 minutes later the doctor came out looking confused and shocked. He explained that it was a miracle because my mother did not have an ounce of cancer in her body — her biopsy had been incorrect.
The doctor went from having to explain 30 minutes before surgery that my mother would have a double mastectomy instead of a single because they felt it had spread further on to the next breast to telling me that she was completely cancer-free.
Shortly after I prayed and asked God to guide me, I wanted to take the step of conversion.
To be continued…