Born in Brazil, my mom was a single parent to my brother and I and raised us with my grandmother. We both had different fathers and neither of them was in our lives, so my mom always worked hard to provide for us all. She was the type of mom that bent her back to make sure we had the best and had a good life. Because of that, we moved quite a bit to live in better neighborhoods. Now, we weren’t poor, but my mother always struggled to manage the money. Even in her difficulty to get her finances together, she was always lending out a helping hand to the people around her, putting their needs before her very own. I’m honestly convinced that my mom’s generous heart is the reason why we have encountered so many miracles in our lives. My past isn’t pretty, but it’s why I’m here. So I hope you’re ready for the ride, here’s my story
My mother wasn’t happy with the way we were living in Brazil, so she decided that moving us to America for a better education and opportunities would benefit us. So on September 11th, as I was inside the American embassy in Brazil, applying for my tourist visa, the news about the plane crashing into the twin towers came across the television screen that we watched in the waiting area. But I was quickly distracted as they called my name to be seen for an interview and was granted a visa to go to the U.S. A month later, I received my passport and visa to travel out of the country.
On June 25th, 5 days after my 15th birthday, my mom, brother and I walked on U.S grounds for the first time. I had always dreamt of living in America, but we were illegal and our opportunities were very limited. What we didn’t know was that our tourist visa could be changed into a student visa, so we continued living in the country illegally and my brother and I started to attend high school in Long Island, New York. My mom started cleaning houses for a living to pay the bills. It was hard for me, because never in my life had I seen my mom do such a job. I’ve always known her to work for the government back in Brazil, meeting important people such as Bishop T.D Jakes and Angela Davis. Talking about where my mother worked was never a subject I bought up because I was too ashamed. However, she remained humble and continued to put others before her. But I couldn’t bear to see her cleaning toilets for a living, so I got a job and worked hard to give her a better life. We had to start from zero in New York. We went from living in a 4 bedroom, 5 baths, huge backyard in Brazil, to a 1-bedroom basement in Queens with a friend to help pay rent. But after my brother witnessed one of his co-workers die on the job, in front of his eyes, he and I decided to move out and live somewhere else.
The year I graduated high school, I started college. Living with my brother, just two crazy teenagers, you could only imagine the trouble we got ourselves into. Partying, drinking and smoking weed was what we lived by. But after a while, I craved for something more, I wanted a new feeling, something stronger than marijuana. So I took a pill, a pain killer; I took Methadone. I was always searching for something more fulfilling. After a couple of hours of taking the pill, my body became numb. It was the night of Halloween so of course partying was involved and I couldn’t wait to get there. We brought weed, drinks and lots of games to play and wasted no time on getting completely trashed. The methadone must have already kicked in because I remember not being able to feel my drunk. I took shot after shot, cup after cup and I still wasn’t getting drunk so I began mixing drinks and taking more shots. The next part of the story is something I don’t recall but was told. According to friends, they had decided to take me home because of how much alcohol I had consumed, but even then, I was able to walk and talk like I was completely sober. I got home to my mom and aunt who were visiting my brother and I at the time. Assuming my drunk had kicked in, my mother saw how wasted I became and made me lay on the couch and got me a glass of water. My mom heard my aunt yell from the living room and when she came to see what was wrong; she saw that I was bleeding from my mouth. I felt nauseous so I tried to throw up but couldn’t. They ended up calling 911 and I ended up having two respiratory attacks in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. When I got there, the doctors didn’t have much hope for me because they alarmed my family when they said I only had 24 hours to live and only had 20% of oxygen flowing through my body. They predicted brain loss and said, if I did walk out, it would be in a vegetable state. For two days I remained in the ICU and had tubes placed in my stomach and lungs to pump out all the alcohol. My alcohol level was six times over the drunk limit, which was a record for the hospital. My first memory of everything was opening my eyes and being surrounded by family and friends crying. I thought I had been in a bad car accident. When they told me what had happened, I began to weep and vowel to never drink and smoke again. But I had so much anger towards God, my family pushed me away and I was no longer getting invited to the parties anymore. I felt like an outsider, like I was being rejected. So I did what I knew best, I began smoking weed again to minimize the pain.
In 2007 I had an encounter with God that turned my life inside out. I moved out of my brothers place, moved back in with my mom and broke up with my girlfriend at the time because I knew staying with her only pulled me to live in sin. The next two years were great and my relationship with God was looking up. I began attending a Brazilian church and even started serving as well. But when my grandmother died in 2009, it took a toll on me bad. And because I was still living illegally in America, I was unable to fly back home to attend the funeral. It was one of my many struggles; the death of my grandmother. I got so upset with God because he had let all these bad things happen to me and after a while, I stopped believing.
After my grandmother’s death, I began drinking again. It was back to old Bruno trying to ease the pain with alcohol. That year, the month of June, President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Of course I applied for it, but the process was one of the most painful moments of my life. For a year and 6 months, every issue that could come up, came up. My father gave me the name “Bruno Antunes Nogueira Coimbra Nunes do Nascimento”. I know, it’s a long name and because of it, I had problems getting the DACA. My whole name couldn’t fit on the application; go figure. From the name problem, to the social security office not having me in the database; It was just a mess and I couldn’t help but be emotional about it all. I started going to Hillsong NY and I could feel God tugging on my heart to bring me back into His arms and after nine months, I saw that God was trying to bring me back to him. After 9 months, I was granted an employment card the day before Christmas.
Now that I was able to work legally here in the US, I wanted to get a job that woulnt make me feel useful. I’ve worked at various jobs to try to pay the bills. I had so many failed business’ and one being photo and video. I began a construction job where my boss wanted me to move to Miami. He paid for my plane ticket, and living arrangements for three days so that I could check it out before making a permanent decision. I was offered a hose to stay in for 8 months and decided to make the move. Now I live here in Florida where I am financially stable and investing in Gods Kingdom at Vous Church. I always thought God was distance, however He is right here with us. We just need to be true to who we are and ask for forgiveness. I’ve sinned a lot in life and I’ll continue to sin because I’m not perfect. However, the Grace of the blood of Jesus has cleaned me and will clean anyone else.