October 6, 2020

On September 23, 2020, the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voted to support and partially fund an initiative to reach out to the Jewish community here in Los Angeles by the Southern Californian Conference. This initiative, called “Los Angeles Urban Center of Influence for Jewish Ministries,” is sponsored by the West and the L.A. Metro Regions and led by David Gardner, Ojai church pastor and PUC Jewish Ministries Coordinator. Thank you, David, for taking this pivotal role in expanding the Kingdom of God.

Ann Elizabeth Leiss & Andrien Brutus
Ann Elizabeth Leiss & Andrien Brutus

A week ago, for the first time, I had the opportunity to officiate a beautiful wedding at the beach of a lovely Christian young couple: Ann Elizabeth Leiss and Andrien Brutus. Annie grew up here in Glendale and is a Glendale Adventist Academy alumnus. Andrien grew up and graduated from Montemorelos University. Both are physicians, and they met at the Kettering Adventist HealthCare when they were in the internship stage of their careers. Congratulations and many blessings to the newlyweds and their families.

I want to conclude by honoring the life of a godly Christian woman who was not a member of the Southern California Conference, but whose influence was on the woman who, to some degree, today has a practical influence on the president of this conference.

Violeta Tabuenca de Positino
Violeta Tabuenca de Positino

Violeta Tabuenca de Positino was my mother-in-law, whose life was dedicated to serving others. She grew up in a home of early missionaries in South America with limited resources for basic commodities and education. However, she learned to live happy and content with what she had and didn’t have. For 40 years, she and my father-in-law were high school teachers of biology and math/physics, respectively.

Her life was bathed with daily prayer, reading the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy books. She liked attending church to sing, listen to good messages and fellowship with friends.

She was generous to everyone who was in need and very embracing, even though they didn’t share her perspectives of life and faith. What I admired most was her wise way to speak and her prudent conduct, including at my home.

She had prejudices as everybody else, and she recognized that this was not right because these “other” were also children of God. So, she purposely prayed for the Lord to help her change her attitude and accept that person as a child of God. And her prayers worked. Her attitude changed, and she became a friend of these others. She was smart in sharing her faith and helping others to turn their eyes upon Jesus.

When our first child was born, my in-laws lived with us for eight months, and during this time, I had the opportunity to know them very well. What saw and experienced was a real simple Christian life. I was blessed by their first-hand influence as well.

On Sunday, September 20, after breakfast, she went to her bedroom to pray as usual she did every day. A few minutes later, she was found on the floor due to a massive stroke she had. She was taken immediately to the hospital, and after being unconscious for three days, she peacefully stopped breathing and fell asleep in Jesus.

Esther says, “I’m sure that morning, Mom was praying for her children and grandchildren, who were their most precious treasures because she 'had no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth'” (3 John 4).

I invite all parents to keep praying for their children, regardless of their age.

May the Lord finds us all faithful when HE appears at His Second Coming.

In await,

Velino A. Salazar