Leticia Yuzefpolsky faced a horrible tragedy in 2008. She lost nine loved ones when a family gathering turned into a Christmas Eve massacre. But Leticia won’t let the situation steal her joy. The real-life overcomer shares how that night changed things forever. But Leticia also shares how, even in the face of such horror, she has chosen to respond with faith.
Online comedian Kristina Kuzmic is known more for her funny videos on parenting. The mom’s aim is to bring humor and a new perspective to situations that normally might bring frustration. Stepping outside of her normal video's pattern, Kristina asked her friend Leticia to share her experience and how she has moved forward from the tragedy.
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"When I think about hope, when I think about going through hell and then emerging and still being able to find joy and fulfillment in life, I think of my friend, Leticia."
True Story Of A Christmas Eve Massacre
On Christmas Eve 2008, Leticia's former brother-in-law, Bruce Pardo, dressed up as Santa Claus. Showing up at the family gather at her parent’s home, he killed nine family members.
Leticia’s 8-year-old daughter heard him outside and ran to the door, expecting to find their neighbor who always dressed as Santa for the children. Instead, when she opened the door, Bruce entered and began firing.
“He came in with weapons in his bag and basically tried to take every single one of our lives,” Leticia recalls.
A bullet hit Leticia's little girl in the face. Thankfully, it went through her cheek and she was able to escape. Before taking his own life, Pardo used a homemade explosive device which engulfed the home in flames.
Leticia lost her parents, siblings, and sibling-in-laws that night. Her children, husband and some nieces and nephews were able to escape. Leticia decided that she would not allow this horrific event to define her.
"One of the things that helped me through my grief, absolutely, was my faith. You replace the bad with really good..."
Choosing Love Over Hate
In the face of such utter darkness, Leticia knew that she couldn't allow evil to win in her life or her family's. Losing her loved ones in the Christmas Eve massacre was devastating. But Leticia knew that her love for them needed to be stronger than any hatred or anger. It was a conscious decision to honor her parents who had taught her to love and to be the good in the world.
"This love you gave me, I'm not going to waste it. I know you want me to be happy."
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Leticia is sharing her story as an encouragement to others. She wants those struggling with heartache and difficult situations to see that their life story doesn't have to be defined by others. There is an opportunity to change others with your perspective and choosing joy and love is the first step. For those who have gone through a giant loss like Leticia's or are facing fear and worry, she has a message that she wants to share.
"Don't give up hope. Take the time to grieve. Move forward by looking at just the next day. And focus on your goal, which is joy, at the end of it. Joy. In time."
What a beautiful message! Leticia's story is so moving. Her choice to allow God to use her tragedy to help others and encourage her own family is truly inspiring.
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"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13
WATCH: Finding Joy After Christmas Eve Massacre