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.