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Brandon: After 6 months, the Mission ‘has changed me so much’
When Brandon looks back on his childhood, he says it was a good one. His parents raised him and his brother and sisters in Lancaster, and Brandon said his dad brought them all up around the church. Brandon did have some trouble in school, however. “I was kind of shy and reserved, so I didn’t really get along with the other kids,” he said. “I really hated school. Even in high school, I didn’t get through all of it. I wasn’t into it, and I wanted to join the Army.”
Brandon dropped out in the 10th grade and got his GED. He tried to join the Army, but failed the test he had to take since he was under 18. When the Army didn’t let him in, Brandon moved to Santa Monica and attended the Art Institute of Los Angeles, studying video production. “It was fun to live out there and be by the beach all the time,” he said.
Brandon was at school for about a year and a half before his father died of prostate cancer. “My sisters really took it really hard,” he said. “They were the closest to him. For me, it affected me in a different way. I just started going out and doing whatever I wanted to do—partying, drugs. I just wanted to forget about it.”
Brandon received money from his father’s life insurance policy and moved to Arizona. “I blew all the money on stupid stuff. I lived there for a couple years and then moved to Las Vegas. It was pretty cool and I was having a great time. I was an editor for a start-up video production company. But I got into meth and messed it all up. I went crazy. I wasn’t focusing on work. I started selling drugs—it was all bad.”
Brandon had nowhere to go, and reached out to family in Victorville. He moved there in 2018. “Within a week or two of me getting there, my aunts and cousins wanted me to get help. I just kept telling them, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’ One of my cousins, Anthony, he was the one who helped me out the most. He kept telling me, ‘Man, you look terrible. We need to get you help. You’re being a terrible person.’”
One of Brandon’s aunts found out about the Mission. He started the program but left three months in. “I don’t think it was the right timing for me,” Brandon said. “It was kind of a forced thing. It was someone else’s idea, not mine.”
Brandon got a job at a trash company and worked there for seven or eight months before relapsing. “This time, it was my decision to come to the Mission and get better,” he said. “I wanted to quit drugs once and for all, accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and really put my heart into the program.”
Brandon has been at the Mission for six months. “It’s changed me so much,” he said. “I’m a lot happier. I’m a lot more involved with everything. Everything is better. Life is getting better and easier and it’s coming together. I’m seeing so many benefits of being here.”
Brandon couldn’t pin down one aspect of the program that’s helped him. “It’s the whole thing,” he said. “The morning devotions with the pastor—him teaching us, and me really listening and soaking in all the information and knowledge I can get. The staff, they’re awesome. They try to help out, and are always teaching. I’m learning how to work around other people again, in a sober environment.”
For now, Brandon isn’t focusing on the future. “I’m graduating in October, and then we’ll see,” he said. “I’m thinking of staying here. I think it’s good to be around the Mission for a while and stay around everyone who has helped me. I’m just so thankful to Jesus for everything he’s done for me, and what he’s doing for the program.”
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