Angels on Errand


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Eishelle and Danielle: ANGELS ON ERRAND – the mission calls

Eishelle and Danielle came home from BYU-Idaho December 14th early in the morning from a red eye flight.  Whenever these girls come home from college, our house feels smaller for some reason.  Laundry gets bigger and so many things around here just expand.  Anyhow, the next day, something big came in the mail.  Eishelle’s mission call came!!!!!!!  We were so excited that we just couldn’t contain ourselves.  We wanted to know where she was going but we had a problem. When the mail came, we were already almost leaving to go to church for our Plainview Ward Christmas Party.  Eishelle’s friends from wherever wanted to be a part of it when she opened it.  They had to Skype, face time, voice call, just whatever technology would allow.  So, we went to the party and waited till we got home to do this mission call opening the envelope ceremony as her friends wanted to be involved.  Well, Eishelle is going to:201804_4435679242958_1419318622_o

Illinois Chicago Mission.  She is to enter the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on February 20 to learn Spanish as she will be preaching the gospel in the Spanish Language.  Wooohooo!!! Wow, my daughter will be called Hermana Whitney (Sister Whitney).  I made an appointment with the the LDS Manhattan Temple for her to get important temple ordinances and so she did.  A lot of members of our ward supported her through all these, even my sister Jetjet drove for 5 1/2 hours from Maine with her daughter Zipporah, to be with Eishelle on this very special day.  That was January 26, 2013.  As of this date, Danielle’s papers had been submitted 2 weeks already.  She is just patiently waiting for it to come anytime now.

As we arrived home from the temple that day, Bill opened the mailbox and lo and behold a big white envelope stood out among the other mails that came.  This one was addressed to Danielle.  He ran it to Danielle and we heard the loudest scream of all!  Danielle’s mission call is here!!!!!!!!  Life is really getting so so exciting around this house, unbelievable!  So exciting!!!

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“Come’on Danielle, open it now …!”  Same ceremony we have to go through with Eishelle, roommates from college has to be present to share the excitement over skype, face time and voice calls again.  Where is Danielle going?  Is the mail thick?  Is it thin?  Maybe she is going to Texas … California … Arizona … New Mexico … New Hampshire … New Jersey … Brooklyn ??? (fuhgeddaboudit).  Nobody guessed it right.  Danielle is going to Utah Ogden Mission and leaves for the MTC on March 6, 2013.  Wooohooo!!!  She is also going to preach the gospel in the Spanish language.  Everyone just got so excited that we were crying.  My girls are going on a mission!!!  And they will be together at the Provo UT MTC for a month before they finally leave to the areas they are called to go.  You go, Hermanas Whitney!!!  I felt very comforted to know that they are staying stateside.  Heavenly Father must have heard the wishes of my heart.

On the other side of the world (UK) is my nephew Jared Alforque, the son of my sister Wilma and Alex.  He opened his mission call  and was assigned to go to England Leeds Mission.  He left home bound to Preston England MTC  January 31st.  He is now in his first area: West Yorkshire (just wanna plug that in).  I have other nephews and a niece that are now RM’s (returned missionaries).  Of Roger and Aurora”s children, 3 went (Ronron, Wizard and Riyadh), of Carol and Cres’ children, 1 went (Christina) and this is now our time: Eishelle, Danielle and Jared.

Danielle, she also went through the temple in Manhattan on February 16, 2013, got her the important temple ordinance and a lot of members of our ward came to attend.  Very special day.  These are pictures outside Manhattan temple (Jetjet and I included) and the New York hotdogs, they shared after the temple session.  Yummy!  … and our crazy family picture with Jetjet and Zipporah (both ends) at the bishop’s office.

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Everyone in our house is really happy with all these recent exciting experiences we have  had as a family.  I feel blessed to have righteous children (picture below) who wants to serve the Lord.  It puts fire in my behind to be better myself.  Someone, though, is especially happy.  I know this family member is sad, too, but I don’t wanna dwell on the sad part.   A lot of non-missionary wardrobes will be left around here (over and under :0)) and high heels galore of different colors.  Guess who that is?   Noelle is!!!  Congratulations Noelle, you just inherited a truck load of clothes and shoes!!!  And thinking about it since we have the same size … me too! :0)

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Eishelle and Danielle: ANGELS ON ERRAND – to go or not to go

When Eishelle turned 20, Bill and I felt like, wow, we have a 20 year old daughter.  We’re old.  How did this happen?  I got so excited that  in one more year, Eishelle will be going on a mission.  To my dismay, she was not sure if she wanted to go or not.  I thought it was a sure thing, that I will have my first child go and everyone will follow.  Not.  I was not thinking that she had a choice and that I should not force my missionary ideas to her.  She had to decide for herself.

BYU – Idaho, I thought was destroying the missionary plans I had for my daughter.  Everytime, Eishelle would call me, she tells me who got engaged and who is getting married among her friends.  I would ask her, “How old are they?”  Eishelle would excitedly tell me, “18 or 19.  Some are 20”.  She would not see, of course, but my jaw would drop.  She would tell me she was dating some guys there and I was afraid she would be one of those girls that will be engaged soon.

Then came a young man into her life, Kelvin.  He was her high school classmate and was a non-member of the church.  They dated and since he does not know the standards we live as members of the church, I was a little scared.  I was not ready for this.  All the fears of a mother filled my mind.  She is now 20 and she has her own life although she still lives with us.  I got all the “what if’s” in the world.   This mother prayed and prayed and prayed and fasted a couple of times.  Then daddy came in the picture: “if she wants to date him, he has to come to the church and meet up with the missionaries”.  I think Eishelle’s interest in becoming a missionary was rekindled when she would be there when Kelvin was being taught in our house or wherever.  She would share her testimony at the end of the lesson too.  She must have felt the missionary spirit.  Well, after several lessons with the missionaries, Kelvin got baptized.  Thanks to Elder Campbell, Elder Mun and Elder Anderson.

One time, I was assigned to teach a lesson in one of our women’s classes called Relief Society about missionary work and Eishelle was there that morning to listen and support her mom.  After the lesson, she said, “Mom, I want to go on a mission”.  I was the happiest mother in the world.  My fasting and prayers have been answered.  She said she prayed about it and nothing will change her mind now.  I was like, “YES!!!!”

Eishelle went back to college in her 4th semester, I think, now with Danielle who will be a freshman in BYU-Idaho.  This was fall of last year.  She still dated some guys, told me about them and at the end of the conversation, she would always mention about going on a mission.  She filed her mission papers and when the semester was over, Eishelle and Danielle flew back home and we were just waiting for the mission call to come.

Danielle, on the other hand was not too much drama.  Seems like she was very fixed with her decision to go although she dated a couple of guys too.  I guess she just didn’t have time for that drama thing because of October’s General Conference.  These general conferences comes every 6 months (April and October) and  during these conferences authorities of our church will speak and give us updates, talks, inspirations and so on and so forth – anything that will help us improve our lives kinda’ thing.  The president of our church, who is President Thomas S. Monson, spoke about changes in the ages of missionaries.  This is how he said it:

“Brothers and sisters, I now turn to another matter—namely, missionary service …

I am pleased to announce that effective immediately all worthy and able young men who have graduated from high school or its equivalent, regardless of where they live, will have the option of being recommended for missionary service beginning at the age of 18, instead of age 19. I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.

As we have prayerfully pondered the age at which young men may begin their missionary service, we have also given consideration to the age at which a young woman might serve. Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21.”

When I watched and heard this over BYUTV, my heart leaped for joy.  I said, “Danielle can apply now and go, she will be 19 in 4 months.”  I had to text her right away and this was how our conversation went:  292863_4585170545080_1357619340_nThis got all of us excited that we were crying.  Even my younger children got so excited that they were counting their fingers on how many more years for them.  Pres. Monson is so inspired.  And so it was, both Eishelle and Danielle are going on a mission.  The plan now was that after they come home, Eishelle will just wait for her call and Danielle complete her mission application.  Both of them are not going back to BYUI at this time.

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Eishelle and Danielle: ANGELS ON ERRAND – growing up

The same way I shared all my mission stories to my siblings, I told all my mission stories to my children.  They would listen so intently and would tell me to do it again and again and again.  And when I did repeats, they would listen to me like it was their first time to hear it.

Having Bill as a husband and as a father, he always made sure that nobody plays hooky with church and all church activities.  For him, church is our life and that is the way it is.  So unless we are dying or so, every Sunday, we are in the church.  Of course, school was next on the list and the children have to do well too.  He believes  that as a minority here in America, our children have to do really well in school.  Seriously, all my children never missed a day in school.  Not like I am trying to brag but I think that is amazing.  I was never like that.

I always believe in what is said in the scriptures about our children.  It says in Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  So true.  And since we all want our children to be taught godliness and all those other virtues, Bill and I made a lot of sacrifices.

We made sure we have to be there for each of their little activities here and there.  Bill was a track star in college so he introduced all our children to track.  They all ran twice a week, and Saturdays were big for track meets.  Bill and I were there to cheer and capture some kodak moments even if my eyes were too blurry from a shift I had the night before.  All for the children.  I love music.  I know how to play the guitar as most Filipinos do, I play the piano only with the right hand and very slowly.  Not good at all.  I read about how music plays a big part with being smart in school, so we introduced our children to music.  They all chose which instrument they wanted, plus when we had a little money we took the the girls to piano school.  So Eishelle and Danielle plays the violin, Noelle and Chantelle plays the flute.  Michael just plays the piano like a little rhyme and a little rhythm.  We ran out of money when he was old enough to read music and the girl’s piano teacher, Anjela, moved back to Minnesota.  Now though, Michael is in his 3rd year playing the cello.

A year after piano lesson, Danielle became our organist.  The organist before was called to serve a mission and since there was no other replacement, Danielle was called to take the assignment.  Piano and organ are 2 different machines to play but she self taught herself only after a few weeks of tutoring.  There were times when I thought the members of our ward will not come back after Danielle accompanied the hymns that Sunday. Haha.  She wanted to give up several times but we never discouraged her.  Members of our ward were all kind and supported her with encouraging words.  Now our Danielle plays the organ like nothing.

My husband is our bishop.  He was called July 22, 2007 up to now.  As the bishop’s family, we were told that we are like fish in a fishbowl.  That all the members or non-members of the church are looking up to us and that we must behave accordingly.  When the girls were in the dating age, nobody would approach them.  Everyone was afraid of  Bishop Whitney.

Since we have 4 girls, (and Michael) we go to Young Women’s Camp every summer.  I am the camp nurse and Bill is one of the priesthood counselors.  We started going when Eishelle was 12 in 2004 and we haven’t stopped since. Girls in our church go to girls’ camp starting from  ages 12 up to 18.   In their Young Women age (12 to 18) also, we have a program in our church called Personal Progress.  It is like how boy scouts would make projects and all, to attain the highest award which is becoming the Eagle Scout.  When a girl completes her value projects in the time allotted  (6 years) for  her to  finish and all those little projects, she is awarded the Young Womanhood Recognition.  This personal progress for girls help them get closer to God as they study His teachings and prepare them for life. My 3 older girls got them when they were 14 years old.  I wish I was like them.  We are now working on Chantelle who just started this program a year ago.  Hopefully, Bill will continue to work with Michael and attain his Eagle in the future.

When Eishelle and Danielle started high school, and now Noelle is, another thing we do in our church is early morning seminary.  It is like religion classes held every morning at 5:45 to 6:30 for high school students.  Now, this is another sacrifice not only our children do but also to all parents who drive them to this class.  After 4 years of doing this, seminary students graduate and testify how seminary helped them all through high school.  I, too, can add a testimony  to that.  This is my 3rd year teaching this class and nothing beats reading and studying the scriptures first thing in the morning.  It becomes a shield to one who faces this crazy world we are in.

I believe that we can prepare our children to face life struggles and pains and overcome them.  And that the way  to happiness is following what the scriptures say about the first and the second great commandments:  Luke 10:27 “… Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Eishelle and Danielle just did not decide to go on a mission just like that, preparation started when they were born.  Years of going to church as a family, praying and reading the scriptures alone and as a family added to all these preparation.

I hope that I do not appear like I am this holy person trying to teach and preach to all those that read this blog.  My family is really far from perfect.  Who is anyway?  Same as most, we are a family who needs to repent everyday  and who wants to do the right thing as much as we can,  to show our love  to our God.

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Left to right: Chantelle 13, Danielle 19, Eishelle 21, Noelle 15 and Michael 11

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Eishelle and Danielle: ANGELS on ERRAND the beginning of it all (part 2)

It was scary to come to New York.  I travelled alone, boarding Northwest Airlines.  We stopped over Seoul, Korea and then flew over the Pacific Ocean to Anchorage, Alaska.  From Anchorage, Alaska was a flight towards my final destination: JFK International Airport, New York.  The flight was long.  They served us breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When they served dinner, I saw this green tree looking kind of vege.  I had to ask the man sitting next to me what that green thing was.  He said it was broccoli.  I have heard of it before but I never really saw it  in person.  It tasted good and the guy said, “it is very healthy too”.  That started our conversation.  I did not open my mouth to speak for about 20 hours and now we were talking.   As I was on the plane looking down at NYC, I saw a lot of lights, tall buildings and more lights.  Looks like the Star Wars movie I saw before.  In the middle of the city was a dimmed area.  The man beside me said, “that is Central Park”.  I thought that must really be a big park.  Then we landed.  I knew someone was picking me up but I just did not know where.  I don’t know how we survived before the cellphone era.  There were a lot of pay phones though.  I just did not know how to use it.  I was kinda’ like, “thank you” after the voice tape stopped talking.  Haha.

A Nurse Supervisor, Mrs Rosalina Avila, came with another young nurse Luchie ( she must’ve been off that night).  They came to pick me up. I was very homesick.  Food tasted different, I had a lot of nose bleeds, in short I was very miserable.  I lost a lot of weight.  The wrist watch I had snugly on my wrist was going up and down my arm.  I called home a lot.  My phone bill was up to the heavens.  It was bitterly cold.  The jacket I brought from home was no use.  I thought it was very thick, but no.  My little filipino body just could not take winter.  Even my tongue inside my mouth was trembling.  Thanks to Mrs. Avila, she lent me this beautiful red jacket that made me warm.

I made several attempts to call the church but nobody was there.  I remembered Papa would tell me to call the church wherever I was and they would be able to help me out.  Saturday came and I spoke to the former bishop of the area.  Next thing was that there was a knock on my door.  A German gentleman was at the door and said he was Brother Arthur Loesevitz, a member of the church in the area and he was one of the residents in the pediatrics department.  I met his wife Crystl and their 4 children.  This family brought me to the church every Sunday.

My first Sunday, I was sitting in the middle pew alone.  It seems like nobody wanted to sit near me.  I thought I saw Papa in the corner back of the chapel.  I looked, looked again and looked some more.  It was embarrassing when our eyes met.  He must have known I’ve been looking at him.  This man looked like Papa in some angle of his face.  Or I might’ve  just be so homesick, forcing myself to see familiar people in my mind.  More embarrassment came when he was introduced to me by Sister Buell.  His name: Bill Whitney, the Young Single Adult chairman of the stake.  He was kinda like the man that young girls dreamt of: tall, dark and handsome.  He had a car, he drove me wherever I needed to go.  Life became exciting for me.

I never had the courage to tell my family in the Philippines that I was dating Bill.  I was thinking they might not approve.  One night I had the courage to write to Mama that I was dating a man, he’s tall , he’s black and he is handsome (thinking that she will never pick up on it).  Next thing was an unexpected phone call.  Mama never calls.  I am the one that calls because it is so expensive on their end.  The conversation went this way.  Mama:  Are you dating a black man?  Me: Uhuhh.  Mama:  Please tell me you’re joking.  Me: I am telling you the truth.  Mama:  Why? Are there no Filipinos in there or white americans?  Me: NO.  Mama:  What kind of America is that? (upset)  Me: I don’t know.  My sister Wilma got on the phone and said,”I can’t believe you.”  I felt the disappointment in her voice.

Now this is getting really funny because the week before I left home, I’d joke around everyday telling my Mama, “I am going to NY and I will marry a black man.”  I did this every night the whole week.  Mama would get so upset.  Well, obviously, the angels must have heard me because I did the exact thing.  I married a black man.  9 months after coming to America, I discovered myself kneeling down in sealing room #4 of the LDS Washington DC temple and married my sweetheart for time and all eternity.  That was November 11, 1989.  May, of the next year,

we flew to the Philippines for me to introduce him to my family.  Bill is a very friendly kind of guy.  He was received and accepted positively.  3 years after, Eishelle came in the picture, then Danielle came after 2 years. 4 years passed another baby girl, Noelle, joined us from heaven.  Year 2000, another baby girl came.  We called her Chantelle.  As you can see, I got all the “elle’s”.   Then we got so excited when Michael came 2 years after Chantelle was born.  We finally got a boy!

I feel so privileged to be given these children.   I know they are all Heavenly Father’s children and as their earthly mother, I have the responsibility with my  husband, to love and protect them.  I love them all so much.  I want to teach them all what they must do, to go back to where God is.

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Eishelle and Danielle: ANGELS ON ERRAND: the beginning of it all (part 1)

I am a second generation member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  My family and I were taught and were baptized as members of the church in the Philippines in 1970.  We are 10 brothers and sisters, and I am the 4th.  In this picture is my Mama Epifaniabefore coming to NY and my brothers and sisters: Joy Jessica, who we fondly call Jetjet, Russell, Ruben, Wilma, myself, Roger and Harold (with the guitar).  My 2 older sisters (Carolina and Jean Elsa and our younger sister Honee Yzabelle) are not in the picture, and of course my Papa Vicente who passed on the year before.  This picture was taken December 1988.

I was the first in my family to be a full time missionary of our church.  I went to serve in the Philippines Baguio Mission (June 1982 to December 1983).  Baguio Mission comprises regions in the Northern Philippines.  We are from Davao City which is like the foot of the Philippines.  It was the best time of my life.  During that time, I travelled to places I’ve never been, ate food I’ve never tasted before, met a lot of people and taught as missionaries, like I’ve never done. I did that for 18 months.  In a few years when my youngest son will be 18 and old enough to serve a mission himself, I would say that if I will be given another chance to do it,  I will do it in a heart beat, this time with my husband as a couple missionary.

After I served my mission in 1983, I came home and shared all my experiences to my younger siblings, and they were so inspired to serve, too.  Excluding my older brother Roger and Mama in the picture, all of those faces served full-time in different areas in the Philippines.  I would say that our family have really been blessed with the services we rendered to the Lord.

I am a Registered Nurse.  In the Philippines, young girls, after high school, enter the nursing school with high hopes of going abroad, especially to the land of milk and honey: the United States of America. I exactly had the same intentions.  As poor as we were, my parents, worked so hard to put me through nursing school.   I remember some nights when we went to bed hungry, we just did not have money for dinner.  Life was hard.  Those nights, I felt the urge to do well in nursing school to lift my family out of poverty.  BTW, I went to one of the most prestigious nursing schools of the country: San Pedro College, in Davao City.  I did ok with college, passed the RN boards, took CGFNS (Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools) test to get a working visa to come to America, and January 17, 1989, my dreams and hopes of coming to America came to pass.  Like how the little mouse, Fievel, in the movie, “Fievel Goes West” felt, I was the same way.  The promise of America was at my fingertips.  The first 12 years of my RN in America experience was poured on sending my younger siblings to college.  This is just culturally correct for the Filipino people,  it even got extended to nephews and nieces.  Thanks to my understanding  American husband.  To me, he is really heaven sent.