Brian Garcia left with his daughter. He and his wife started a bread-making business in Idaho Falls three years ago. | Courtesy Celine Garcia
IDAHO FALLS – Brian Garcia was just 11-years-old when he started smoking marijuana.
The 32-year-old grew up in Burley in what he describes as a broken household. Both his parents were alcoholics and often fought with each other. Garcia, who now lives in Idaho Falls, tells EastIdahoNews.com this behavior drove him away and caused him to find an escape elsewhere.
"I started roaming the streets at a really young age," Garcia says. "I was introduced to the wrong crowd, drinking and going to parties, and it slowly got worse."
He started using meth when he was 12 and cocaine when he was 13. By the time he was 14, he was a full-blown addict.
Shortly after his 18th birthday, Garcia experienced another hardship.
"My dad was hit by a truck while he was crossing the street. A young kid (who was driving) didn't see (my dad), and it killed him," says Garcia. "I felt lost. My dad was gone, and my home was empty."
Improving his lot in life became his new goal, and he wanted to get a job. Prior to his dad's death, Garcia had started drinking and got into some trouble with the law. He failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance and spent some time in jail.
At age 20, Garcia was arrested on burglary charges for stealing beer from Walmart. He ended up serving two years in prison because of his past record. A violation of his parole resulted in another three-year sentence.
While in prison, Garcia's life started to change. He got control of his addiction and became clean and sober. He also had time to reflect and read the Bible. A passage in Romans chapter 10 left a big impression on him.
"In verses 9 and 10, it tells you that if you believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, then you will be saved. (Those words) changed my life forever," Garcia says. "God spoke to my heart and led me to understand I was in need of salvation. When I was in jail all by myself, I accepted Christ into my heart, and I got saved."
There were still a lot of things Garcia had to work through, but he says this was the beginning of a remarkable transformation. He continued to study and listen to God's word. Garcia was released from prison at age 25 and was ready to begin the next chapter of his life.
Two years later, he met Celine, the woman who is now his wife. They've now been married for four years and are expecting their second child.
Shortly after getting married, Garcia felt a desire to serve God, and that led him to The Victory Home — a Christian-based homeless and recovery shelter in Twin Falls.
"I know what it's like to be addicted to drugs and struggle with your life," says Garcia. "I wanted to be a full-time live-in volunteer … and learn how to serve the community."
Teaching life skills to guests is one of the shelter's focuses. One class teaches guests how to make bread and sell it. Garcia and his wife learned how to do it and used those principles to establish a business in Idaho Falls three years ago called The Banana Manna.
"Just like God provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness, this was our manna. This was the way God was going to sustain us as a household after we left (Twin Falls)," Garcia says.
Garcia and his wife make 25 different varieties of specialty bread loaves from scratch and deliver them to customer's homes. The most popular flavor is cinnamon crumble, Garcia says. Each loaf comes in large or miniature sizes.
The couple sold bread in other local businesses for a while, including June's Place Coffee Shop in Rexburg, Apple Athletic Club in Idaho Falls, and Creative Wood-N-Things in Ammon. Garcia and his wife are currently looking for new venues to sell their bread and would like to open a brick-and-mortar shop of their own.
"I look at a place like The Cookie Place. They sell one item, and they do it well," he says. "If they can do it and be successful … then why can't we also be successful at selling just bread?"
Garcia says he has a higher purpose in mind with his bread business. His ultimate goal is to open a Christian-based youth center in Idaho Falls.
"There is already a place like that in Idaho Falls (inside the old Boy Scout office). It's a good place where youth can come hang out, have fun and do something productive with other teens … but it has nothing to do with the Lord," Garcia says. "I would like to have a place that's Biblically-based that helps people with all kinds of struggles."
He's hoping others will support him in his efforts to make his dream a reality.
If you own a business and are interested in selling Garcia's bread, call (208) 541-5270.