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Jonathan gets stronger, spiritually and mentally, for his daughter


Jonathan is from Los Angeles—the Westlake/McArthur Park area— where the streets were rough. His mother and father were from Guatemala and came to the United States when they were young. They had Jonathan, along with his older brother and two younger sisters. “We grew up poor,” Jonathan said. “With both of them coming to a new country—it’s hard.

“And then my dad left us, so my mom pretty much raised us by herself. And she had a hard time raising us. We were bad kids growing up in a bad neighborhood.”

When Jonathan was young, he was bullied, so he started boxing. That led to him fighting—a lot. “I started (getting arrested) a lot for being out on the streets, fighting, weapons, having stuff I shouldn’t be having,” he said. “My mom did her best to raise us. It was all fun and games until we were out on the streets—they were pretty rough. You either got with the program or they ran over you.”

Jonathan said he got involved in a gang in middle school. “I was doing bad things,” he said. “I first went to jail when I was 18 and it was really hard. As I was growing up, I kept hanging out with this crowd, messing with heavy drinking and doing time.”

Jonathan, now 29, said that was a cycle that continued for years. “It was on constant repeat,” he said. “I was drinking, doing drugs. I was digging my own grave.”

Something major shifted though two-and- a-half years ago—that’s when his daughter was born. “Everything changed,” Jonathan said. “I was in jail when she was born. I missed that, and that got to me a lot. I met her when she was 2 months old. Her mom and I weren’t on good terms. She said, ‘You’re just going to keep going to jail, and be in and out of her life.’ Everyone was turning their backs on me, due to my addiction, and all kinds of other stuff.”

Jonathan also recently got very sick from his drinking and was told by his doctor that he had liver disease. “It’s just from the constant drinking,” he said. “I’ve been a barber for 15 years, and 85 percent of my clients are addicts too. They’d tip me in drugs or alcohol. I was getting sicker and sicker, and I knew if I kept going, I’d end up dead. I thought about my daughter all the time.”

On Sept. 10, 2020, Jonathan missed his daughter’s 2nd birthday because of his addiction. “That was the last heartbreak for me,” Jonathan said. “I decided I really needed to get help. I wanted to get help for myself, but also for my daughter. I wanted to be a better father for her. I’ve been on and off in her life. I’m just trying to get right, so I can focus on raising her.

“I had to snap out of it—I wasn’t thinking straight. I went to my mom—she was there with open arms. She called my aunt and they found this program. I knew I had to get out of L.A. because of how easily I could call someone.”

Jonathan got to the Mission on Sept. 15. “At first I was being stubborn, and I was still mad at the world,” he said. “It took me awhile to realize the people here were actually wanting to help me. “More family came back into my life. They forgave me and I forgave them. I found peace in my heart, and I don’t walk around angry all the time. I’m trying to humble myself, and I’m trying to learn as much as I can.”

Jonathan grew up knowing God, but is “paying attention” now, he said. “I was baptized here, and I surrendered everything to the Lord. I’m learning how to be humble. The Mission is making me a strong person, spiritually and mentally.

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