Thirty-three was fast!
Calmness and joy, God supplied.
Indeed, I couldn’t ask for more. After 33 years, I still am very happy with the woman I married. And in response to Pastor Sam Boncales of North Carolina comment on facebook, “Yes, if God would give me 77 years more of earthly life, I still would continue to imbibe the sweet nectar of marital bliss. ”
See the difference? My waist was only 29″ and weight was 125 lbs. I probably was “malnourished” as nobody was feeding me well, while I spent most of my days in a remote village of the Ata Manobo tribe in southern Philippines. I conducted language and culture research, and helped lower the 95% illiteracy rate of the tribe through literacy classes. It was only during summer when I was able to get out of that remote village for three successive months to replenish my worn-out body, and either feed my brain some more or share my knowledge on the Ata Manobo language and culture.
And look at Angie, the love of my life. She was petite with a very long black hair, when she was still single. Both of us were on a full-scholarship for our master’s program in applied linguistics. (Thank God for allowing the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) see the latent talent and skill that He’s given us.) The first time I saw her, I knew that we were meant for each other. It was rocky, though, on how to show my love for her. After three summer months of heavy readings and classes, both of us heed back to the boondocks. She resumed her translation work for the Tigwa Manobo tribe in another province, while I resumed mine with the Ata Manobos.
Nevertheless, God works in mysterious ways. Down at the Nasuli Linguistics Center where all the SIL support personnel were based, this “Mother Theresa” of the entire Filipino community in Nasuli, our dear Aunt Sadie Seiker, have prayed hard for a relationship to grow. She even rallied and persuaded other SIL people to pray with her. Whenever both of us flew in to the center for a seminar or evaluation, she always wanted for Angie and I to be together. One time, Bobby and Elaine Gaulden were my host for the entire two-week seminar at the center; Aunt Saide, as always, was Angie’s. And there was a day when I was embarrassed and shocked for at 5 a.m, when I was barely awake, Aunt Sadie, who at that time was 90 years young, came tapping the window of my bedroom to remind me that my breakfast with Angie at her house, a good 30 yards away from the Gaulden’s, was in 30 minutes. And you probably have guessed it right! The topic at the table often took me, a man raised in a society known to be timid, to the point of blushing. I wasn’t fully acculturated yet to the American culture, that I have problem handling the situation. But believe me, Aunt Sadie and many other SILers were instrumental to push me out of my comfort zone. I thanked God for them. And here we are, 33 years of blessed togetherness, after all those insinuated conversations at the Center, and secretly sending love codes to Angie during the SIL morning roll-call through our single-side band radios (the best way to know that all the SIL members and workers in the boondocks are safe and sound), which eventually ended in a real coded conversation after our 4:00’clock afternoon stand-by. I was pretty sure, some of our colleagues, who were on stand-by during those days were eavesdropping. But what can I do; the SIL single-side band radio was our only means to connect with each other!
So, few years after our big candlelight wedding ceremony (of course, at the Nasuli Linguistics Center of the SIL, with our dear Aunt Sadie at the helm in the event planning), Angie and I have this family. Dont’ get me wrong! There were rocky parts, and still a few still exist, in our 33 years of marital bliss; however, these rocky ones, despite of all the commotion and roughness they brought, and is bringing to our marriage, continue to strengthen our faith in each other, and, most of all, our faith in God.
To all of you who have showered us with your love and prayers, eventually, guiding Angie and I together for the past 33 years, thank you all very much. Allow me to extend my heartfelt thanks to Bobby Gaulden, Bob Brichoux and other American SILers, who played a prank on me, the day before the wedding. Probably you didn’t know that Angie and I didn’t spend our first night at the cottage that Pat Mcleod, then the housing manager, had prepared for us, because we really thought that you would give us “hell” that night. And maybe Ryan Galorport and Elmer Ponce played a prank on us that night, too. Ryan and Elmer convinced Angie and I to spend the night at their cottage, above the commissary, instead. What a bummer! But we enjoyed our first night, all the same. Thanks a lot!