May 1, 2024

Seventeen Years of Friendship

We met in fourth grade. Back then, navigating through public school proved to be a challenge for both of us. Genuine friendships seemed difficult to come by.

Despite that, when we met, we both hit it off right away and became fast friends. Spending hours at each other’s houses, we started doing everything together. Eventually, Darling extended an invitation for me to join her and her family at church. To be honest, I was nervous at first. Up until then I had only ever experienced Catholic services so the idea of stepping into an Adventist church felt like a leap. Nevertheless, our church attendance ended up being more of a way for us to have fun than truly grow spiritually. Although Darling had grown up Adventist, I knew little about the core beliefs of the church. 

As we started to get more involved in church activities, we found the opportunity to go to Timber Ridge Camp. We went there for three summers and let me tell you, it was one of the best experiences and greatest blessings. Amidst the beauty of nature, we discovered newfound courage to explore, try new activities, and form friendships. The camp staff, including Pastor Charlie, Ray, guest speaker Pastor Steve, and more, helped foster an environment where we could grow, leaving a positive impact on us as campers. At the end of our second summer at Timber Ridge Camp, after a week of drawing closer to God, we enjoyed a night out under the stars as Pastor Charlie delivered a powerful message and made a call for people to come forward. After encouraging one another, we decided to step up and walk to the front together filled with determination and faith.  

Little did we know that moment of resolve would be captured in a photograph, serving as a reminder of our decision that night. Fast forward some time and we ended up going to Indiana Academy where we found the tools to grow more spiritually (a heartfelt thank you to our Bible teacher, Mr. Reichert). Later, we found a home in the Carmel church, which remains one of the most supportive and uplifting church families we’ve known.  

Then, at the age of 15, I made the life-changing decision to get baptized by Pastor Alex Rodriguez. It was that moment when I became the first Adventist in my family. I then shared our Advent message with my family. Now, at the age of 24, my mom is getting baptized. Who would have thought that a simple friendship could lead to such profound personal transformations, not only in my life but in Darling's life as well? From Timber Ridge Camp to Indiana Academy to Carmel, God has continued to lead us together and individually. After 17 years of friendship, we are still working every day to stay on the path God has set out for us.  

Amaris Corona Torres  is a member of the Carmel Church.