Before we went to board the Washington at the port of San Francisco, I remember that we went to San Jose to see our son, Ken, and daughter, Merilee, who were going to SJBC. We went to the house where Ken was living near school, which also happened to be the home of one of the sons of Woodrow Phillips. We had left Ken some of our furniture from Lassen Street, so he had a few things to remember us by while he was living there. He had already brought our dining room table and set of chairs I always loved so much to that house. We were grateful that he could stay with the Phillips family because they were such good examples to the students. We really missed Ken, but he didn’t really miss us all that much when we left the States to go to the Philippines. He had already made the big leap of leaving home earlier in his life when he went away to Bible College, so he did not experience separation anxiety when we left the country.
We didn’t get to be with Ken there because he was gone somewhere. We never did know where he was that day. But we did get to see Merilee, and she was only too happy to go with us to the ship to see us off. Also, she was the one who was going to take possession of our car, and it was vital that she come with us because until now, she didn’t have any transportation.
It was also neat to have Woodrow and Marj Phillips meet us at the ship that afternoon! Besides being associated with SJBC, they had also been missionaries to Jamaica and were experienced in issues related to long term isolation for couples. Thus, they had been able to help us when we needed them most, giving us new ideas about how to get along together in the Philippines. With our camera, we took a good picture of them, and we felt their love and prayers as they said goodbye to us.
Merilee went aboard ship with us so she could see our cabin and get an idea of what it would be like for us. We just talked a while in our stateroom and then the whistle blew and she had to disembark. That was a very hard thing for us. We had missed Ken and not gotten to see him at all in San Jose, and that was very hard for us, but now we were saying goodbye to our youngest daughter, Merilee, and we didn’t know when we would be back to see her again.
It was on February 23rd, 1974 we left on the Washington, a States Line Steamship, from San Francisco Bay out through the Golden Gate. I don’t know exactly when the ship started moving, but it wasn’t long after Merilee left that we felt it moving. How exciting to realize we were finally on our way! We were both about in tears. Who knew what we were getting ourselves into? However, we knew we were doing the Lord’s will in going to the Philippines, so we just trusted in Him. We were excited about the ship and we set about getting acquainted with our surroundings.
Thankfully, I had letters to write and had brought materials so I could do that. Being on the go so much at the end, we hadn’t written to many folks, and since I am the one who writes in our family, it was my job to get a lot of letters written while we were on the ship. We brought books and magazines to read, too, so were busy doing that eventually, but it wasn’t right away because we did get seasick for a few days, and that wasn’t a good feeling. It made us feel badly that we were missing all of the good food they said was served aboard such a ship. We kept up our routine of walking, though, when we felt better, by climbing up and down stairs and going around the decks. We didn’t want to get out of condition while on ship.
This was a container ship, and the main things on board were the containers. There weren’t too many passengers. The one thing I remember about the other passengers is they were interested in playing cards and gambling, but we had our time filled with letter-writing and reading, so that was okay with us. At the dinner table, we ate when the captain ate, and the food was always absolutely delicious. We praised the Lord for giving us such a beautiful ship to be on and such a lovely ocean that was mostly calm and a real blessing to be on. We heard later that the trip before ours on the Washington suffered quite a storm, and so we were able to praise the Lord even more when we did not have to go through such difficulties.
On March 11, 1974, we finally got to the Philippines. We had to go through quarantine, immigration and customs, and did so in one and a half hours with no fees. It wasn’t until three months later, though, that we finally were able to get our drums released to us, but at that time, they were released duty free with no storage fee and only a $4.00 baggage fee. That was a real miracle.
We were met at the dock by Sid Boudreaux, and he had the van from the C&MA guest house (Christian and Missionary Alliance). We stayed there before heading up to Aparri. Aparri was the home of our sponsoring mission, the Philippine Mission Churches of Christ of Northern Luzon, and Sid and Marj Boudreaux were the only long time missionaries who were there at that time. Ann Tolliver was there, but her aunt and uncle, Charles and Roberta Selby, were home in the States on furlough. We had only our hand-carry luggage with us at that time.