July 12, 2004 - "You're Home, Boys" by Debi Bartow
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What a sweet love story, with so many blessings woven in! Be sure to send Debi an email about her story and be sure to read today's Letter Box for a very special letter!
"You're Home, Boys"
by Debi Bartow
Everyone has heard of the internet horrors. People pretending to be someone they're not. I am blessed enough to tell of an internet love story.
My husband Tom's best friend Dan had been married twice. After being alone for years and not finding that 'special' someone Dan mustered up the courage to do some 'Single Shopping' on the internet. He joined a couple of 'Single Groups' online. He corresponded and met with a few women in close proximity to home but the spark was never ignited.
Then he started an email correspondence with a lady from the Philippines. She was a widow with two small sons, Jerson, 9 and John, 7.
After an email, letter and phone friendship for well over a year he decided he was going to take the trip of a lifetime. He was going to the Philippines.
Everyone, except for Tom tried to discourage him. I told him I thought he was nuts! Both of his ex-wives and his children tried to talk him out of it. He was undeterred. He was going and that was that!
When his plane left Cleveland Hopkins Airport Tom, Dan's daughter Angela and I fell silent. We were all so worried about him. But as Tom would continuously tell us "Dan's a big boy. This is something he needs to do."
Dan spent a little over 3 weeks in the Philippines and had the time of his life! He met all of Rita's family and toured the cities and countryside.
Life in the Philippines is very different from life here. Rita actually cooked a meal that fed seven people with three, yes THREE chicken legs!
No, they were far from poor it was just their way of life. They didn't have much but what they had was greatly appreciated.
One of the boys was eating cereal in the evening and when he didn't finish it, he put the bowl in the fridge so that he could have it for breakfast the following morning. He wasn't told to do that. It is something that is done. Food wasn't put in the trash as they are not wasteful people.
During Dan's trip, squatters came onto the land next to Rita's house and began building a house made of 'found' materials. Dan filmed them and in less then two days they had built a home that here in America our kids would put together and call it their 'fort'. Those people were proud and happy to have shelter.
The boys cried when Dan left and although he never said, I am sure he did some crying too.
In the thirty-some hour flight it took to get back home Dan did a lot of thinking. He came home with a greater appreciation for our great country and a hole in his heart for Rita and her sons.
By the time his plane landed he had made up his mind. He was bringing Rita and the boys to the United States, they were going to get married and he was going to adopt the boys. Dan's heart belonged to them!
All he talked about was the life he could give them in the United States.
Getting them here was not as easy as it sounds. Rita and the boys had to be interviewed numerous times. They went through extensive physicals and had to receive many shots. They had to travel many, many miles away from their home to get to each interview and physical. There were times that they were standing in line by four a.m. to see someone at nine o'clock. It was usually a 'first come, first serve' sort of thing.
Dan spent thousands of dollars with absolutely no guarantee that Rita and the boys would receive the approval to come to the United States. He had to show proof of employment, taxes, home value, etc. Dan and Rita had to sign hundreds of documents.
It took well over a year but the long wait was worth it as Rita and the boys arrived on April 22nd.
Dan had completely remodeled one of the bedrooms for the boys and he had a ton of Christmas presents just waiting to be opened! New bikes were waiting to be ridden and basketballs all ready to be bounced.
John had told his Mother that he knew there wasn't a Santa but that changed when he saw all the gifts Santa left at Daddy's house for him!
And yes, Dan had a beautiful diamond engagement ring to slip onto Rita's finger!
On June 5th, Dan and Rita said their "I Do's" in a beautiful back yard wedding at our home in front of family and friends. Rita's cousin, whom she hadn't seen in over sixteen years flew in from Northern Canada to be her Maid of Honor. The boys walked their Mother down the aisle to their Daddy.
On April 22nd. Dan's life completely changed. But the biggest change will be for Rita's sons. They will have a life here that they once could only dream of!
The blessings we take for granted in this great nation will be bestowed on Rita and her sons. I can guarantee that each and every day is a day of thanks to them.
In the short time the boys have been here they have adjusted well. They love baseball, apple pie and the American way of life! Yes, they are definitely Home!
Dan is so in love with Rita and her sons. And to think that it all started on the internet!
There is one thing that Dan has asked me to do. He wanted me to teach Rita that when they have dinner they can all have their own chicken leg!
Debi Bartow copyright 2004
Debi's previous 2theheart stories include "A Miracle For My Little Angel", "My Father's Star", "Qualifications", and "Sisters", all found in the 2TheHeart story archives.
The Letter Box:
I wanted to share with all of you the wonderful news I received today. Just this week, 16 of the 21 boxes that we sent to one location in Baghdad arrived. The Company Commander sent an email to his friend then I got the news.
There are 25 tents set up in this camp. There are 180 men in this unit. A box was given to 16 of those 25 tents and then the troops started opening them. I was told they went crazy, whooping, and yelling, "OH YES, OH YES" as they saw the items we had packed. They said the soldiers would be running with a couple dozen toothbrushes in their hands, then they'd run into another tent and yell, "We've got a LOT of extra toothbrushes, did you get soap we can swap out?" They told me the guys were having such a great time swapping items, sharing items, and reading the cards and letters from the folks who have been kind enough to send one to the troops. The man who told me this said, "Sharon, it's like they were playing show and tell and they loved everything they received. They got so excited." And then the good news.........he told me he wants to pay for another 20 some boxes to be sent when we ship out our next shipment!!
Imagine getting so excited over a toothbrush or a bar of soap. Imagine that meaning so much to you. This is why this project is working. This is why I do the press work that I do, interviews, anything to get this out to the public to let everyone know how much something so little can mean to a soldier so far from home. I appreciate what they are doing for me and my family. God Bless them all.
Let's get those cards sent to me. We will be sending out a big load of boxes at the end of July. I would like to have a LOT of cards to distribute among the boxes that will be packed.
Come on America........this is our troops. Our men and women who are laying it on the line for you, me, and our country. They need us. They need our support. And.........we need them.
Address Cards to:
Operation We Care
P.O. Box 208
Green Pond, Alabama 35074
Operation We Care
Making a difference, one story at a time!