Letter: ‘No matter what my stepdad did, he was calm and graceful’

‘His desire to be a vessel of light and love has always inspired me’

Loren+Negron%E2%80%99s+stepdad+met+her+mom+while+traveling+in+the+Philippines+during+a+missionary+trip.+Negron+says+her+stepdad+worked+with+churches+in+Manila.+

COURTESY OF LOREN NEGRON

Loren Negron’s stepdad met her mom while traveling in the Philippines during a missionary trip. Negron says her stepdad worked with churches in Manila.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen reporter

When I reflect on my life in the Philippines, I remember the rowdy laughs of my aunts, the obnoxious karaoke nights of my neighbors and the hungry cries of babies in the streets. I also remember the sight of children playing street games, coconut tree leaves swaying and people running to catch a cramped bus.

However, most of my memories of the Philippines are composed of snapshots of my stepdad serving as a missionary and loving the people around him. I still have vivid images of him listening to families speak their stories of survival, sharing God’s love with the people around him.

My stepdad has been serving as a missionary for the past 15 years. In the Philippines, he worked with various church groups in Manila. He helped families who were living near railroad tracks and under bridges. He was also a youth pastor for a few years and worked with individuals who were in those impoverished communities.

Serving others and sharing God’s love has always been my stepdad’s purpose in life. Aside from serving as a missionary and as a youth pastor, he has served his country through the U.S. Army for 10 years. He still serves his country by working in the Walla Walla VA Medical Center, listening and helping veterans get the medical help they need.

No matter what my stepdad did, he was calm and graceful. He listened to understand the communities he was serving. He embraced the culture around him and observed his environment. Gentleness and humility guided his actions. More importantly, he stayed true to his values and prioritized his family above all else.

I have always believed that the first family my stepdad served was my own family. When my stepdad married my mom in 2002, he helped change my mom’s life, as well as my own.

My stepdad often told me he did not want me to grow up without a dad because he knew what that experience is like. He wanted me to have a father to look up to and show me that a man can stay and care for his family. He worked to give us a better life away from the poverty my mom grew up in.

Since the time he married my mom, my stepdad has faithfully stayed and worked hard to ensure I have a good education, and that I have access to resources. He wrestled with the corrupt system in the Philippines for years to adopt me and give me the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen.

Day in and day out, he and my mom persevered through the immigration process. I watched him cry through the bad times but still get up every single morning to work and provide for my family. In 2015, after years of waiting, my family and I arrived in the U.S. with tears of joy and a spirit of thankfulness.

His desire to be a vessel of light and love has always inspired me to be the best I can be. My stepdad was the one who taught me to embrace my story and taught me that it is the hardest book I will ever read and write about. He was the one who showed me the beauty of writing and inspired me to be a writer.

Through his experiences, I have witnessed the power of listening. He showed me that listening can be the most powerful thing we can do to spread love and empower others.

More importantly, he inspired me to serve others in any way I can. Witnessing his missionary work in the Philippines encouraged me to use my passion for writing to be a powerful voice for others.

My stepdad is my dad. I am grateful he adopted me. I am thankful for his sacrifices and for the love he has shown to my family. I love him, and I am proud to be his daughter.