Latena's life has been hard. Starting at a young age she had first-hand knowledge of pain. “One of my first memories was of being molested at the age of three by my half-brother who was seven years older than me. The abuse continued until I was nine years old,” Latena remembered. “I lived my childhood in fear because every day I would have to endure physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuse."
Growing up she continued hoping for a new beginning and a brighter future. At the age of nineteen, Latena met her first husband. But, instead of providing hope, the marriage ended in divorce because of his addictions.
After her divorce, Latena moved to Orlando. She met her future husband, Joe. They were married, and although their relationship was strong, there were still difficulties to overcome. Their first child was born prematurely and only lived for 12 hours. After their second daughter was born a few years later they had to leave their home due to foreclosure. They were teetering on the brink of homelessness when a friend welcomed them into his home.
Two years later they were able to again have a home of their own. It was within walking distance of the Journey. Latena and Joe's daughter was three and they wanted to raise her in the Christian faith, although Latena admits neither she nor Joe had much faith of their own. Since the Journey was so close, "We thought it was as good of a place to start as any," Latena said with a smile.
Latena was very wary of all churches and had a lot of misconceptions about what being a Christ-follower meant. But attending the Journey has helped her learn what it means to follow Christ. "Even though we face trials, heartache and pain, God will never leave us and the promises of His Word are true and never changing. Our identity is not in things or circumstances, but in who we are in Christ," she confidently said. But, Latena's confidence in Christ is not hers alone. "Our daughter is now ten and she is learning right from the beginning to find her identity in Christ and that there is indeed an instruction manual for life—God’s Word." Thankfulness marks the way Latena speaks about how God has worked through the Journey. She explains the change by saying, "The Journey not only led us to the truth of God’s Word, but gave us a community of brothers and sisters in Christ to walk with us through the hills and valleys of life. Because of the Journey, the life we live today and the legacy we are leaving for tomorrow are forever changed. We are so very thankful."