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.