I was born in the Philippines and we left for the U.S.A. when I was 5 years old. My parents were 45 and 55 years of age. They left everything they had ever known to give their 5 children a better life. Could you imagine leaving your possessions, friends, family, and careers at that age to an uncertain future? It’s so bold and courageous of my parents.
When we arrived in the States, my aunts and uncles helped us get settled. The first year our family was split; some of us lived with family members in a suburb of Houston, TX and some of us with family in Louisiana. I was very young and didn’t understand the magnitude of this transition. I was placed in English learning classes and very shy.
In our second year, our entire family was whole again and living together in Louisiana. We lived in one of my uncle’s rental houses in a lower income neighborhood. My parents worked odd jobs and we lived paycheck to paycheck. My mom worked as a certified nursing assistant and my dad delivered pizza. It wasn’t glorious work, but it put food on our table. As soon as one of us got a job, we were responsible for helping out by paying one of the bills or buying groceries.
At school, I was picked on because I was different. I thrived in wanting to be like every other kid. I wanted to wear Tommy Hilfiger shirts and Umbro shorts with the pump-up Nike’s. Of course, we couldn’t afford any of that. If I was able to wear any name brand labels, it was because they were hand-me-downs or from the garage sales.
My parents stressed to us how important education is. All 5 of their children have at least a bachelor’s degree and have successful careers. Now my parents are 68 and 78, they can look back at their hardships and know they had a successful life. They may not have been there to tuck us in for a bedtime story or always there cheering us on for sporting events, but they allowed us all to live the “American Dream”.
I am grateful my parents were so brave to leave their comfort zone. I can’t imagine leaving a country where I spent most of my life and leaving with my 5 children to an unknown land. I am grateful my parents trusted God that He will provide especially in the meek of circumstances. When I feel overwhelmed with life, I have to stop feeling anxious and down on myself. I can’t waste this life that my parents… that God has given me.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you. I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” –Isaiah 41:10