Time to Meet and Charm the Parents
It has not always been an easy road, but one with challenges and great blessings. The challenges included Elly’s family as they wanted her to fall in love with a Filipino. They even tried setting her up with someone who has known Elly for a few years. Just like any other parents who cares for the well-being of their daughter, Elly's parents were afraid to entrust their daughter's life to me, a foreigner.
I came to the Philippines on 12 October, my birthday. The following weekend Elly and I went to see her parents. I spent the first day charming them through my wit and antics, lol. I had them laughing at my jokes and my gentle teasing of Elly. “Papa, get ready with the camera. One, two, threeee” and I scooped Elly up in my arms which had Elly’s papa and mama laughing.
The next day I approached papa and asked for Elly’s hand in marriage. Elly wanted to be present for the discussion. But this was a man to man conversation. Even though she was really curious what I said to Papa, he did not tell her. I was given his approval but the wedding would have to be in the Philippines not New Zealand. Papa also said I needed to ask mama as well. She too gave me her permission.
Finding the Perfect Place and Time
With the relief of getting Elly’s parent’s permission I had to find the perfect time to pop the question. The next weekend we were going to a beach in Quezon province so that would not fit in. My plan was to propose at the Robinsons Galleria cinema where Elly's community, Feast Ortigas, gather for worship every Sunday. She had witnessed proposals there and longed for her own, so it was the perfect venue.
It would not be for a few weeks until I learnt that Elly was serving at the Feast Ortigas so I thought, "Ok, great! This will be the perfect timing!"
Fight Leads to Nervous Wait
But we had a stupid fight! Elly was upset with me. Oh no! How will she respond to the proposal? Will she say yes?
Going to the venue together we stopped to buy some Christian themed DVD’s. I even was successful in making Elly laugh at this time. OK, that’s great, there is her beautiful smile returning.
Feigning Sickness to Unroll the Plan
Then during the Mass, Fr. Arlo at the sign of peace got us to mark the sign of the cross on each other's foreheads and say a word of encouragement or blessing to that person. When Elly approached she said “Thank you for loving me” and returned to her place of serving.
Wow! Thank you Lord! Her heart is softening and she still loves me!
After the Mass the Feast program started. I feigned having diarrhea even saying that it was the food that she gave me cold the night before. “Ahhhh” I said, “I really have to go to the toilet”
“Do you need tissue paper” she asked with concern.
“No I’m sure I’ll be able to find some.” I replied.
Then going to the back of the theater I plotted with Mitch, Elly’s close friend how I would propose.
Obstacles Threaten to Ruin the Proposal
I was absolutely shocked when I received a text from my host family. They were going to come and bring a bouquet of flowers which their two children would present to Elly if she said yes. But they informed me that the escalator broke and there was thick, black smoke pouring out of it. The security guard would not let them pass. More than one security guard told them that the Mass which I was actually present at was cancelled. Bro Bong left the family to go and buy the flowers. I said I would pray for a miracle. I heard later that he went home with the flowers and was about to give up when he received a text from Jean, his wife. They had gotten through and were with me.
When Bro Bong came in with a big package in newspaper Elly asked what it was. Jean could not reply, but just stutter. At that moment Mitch interjected taking the focus away for Elly.
The Time Has Come: It's Now or Never
At the end of the program I went back to the cinema, sitting beside Elly. I had planned that the song, "God Gave Me You" by Bryan White would play. Then at the chorus I would jump up and go to the front. I didn't get around to telling the Feast builder, Bro Vic as I had only gotten permission that morning to propose. I had a feeling that he might say I had a special announcement rather than saying "someone here has a special announcement". Then to my surprise he said that a friend from New Zealand was back and had a special announcement. Elly looked very surprised and even very worried.
I went to the front and took the microphone. With "God Gave Me You" playing I said, “I have an American friend who wants me to address a very special lady in the audience.. Elly was not aware of the ruse and even looked at Mitch sitting next to her. “This gentleman from America is so in love.” The first slide of my powerpoint presentation showed a picture of Mitch smiling with the words, “It is love”. Mitch began crying and said to Elly, “Is he here?” Elly teased Mitch thinking the proposal was for Mitch.
Elly is so Shocked: It's Meant for Her
“So that was a fake. Because, there is another special lady here today and she has captured my heart. You are my co-author, my destiny who captured my heart". Then Elly looked away from Mitch having teased her. There was a look of complete shock on her face like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. “My dancing partner, gorgeous, super compassionate heart.”
“I had to leave someone just for you” I said as the photo was on the screen of me with my arm around a mannequin. “Joke lang” I said.
“This is love” I narrated as it showed us embracing each other up a tree. “And, I love you Elly Roberts” I said showing the last slide.
Elly Responds Amidst Screams from the Audience
“Can you come forward please” I said to her. Screams echoed from the crowd as I got down on one knee. Elly’s hands covered her face as her tears began to run. “Elly Roberts" I said the name which she felt so heart touching, "Will you do the honor of loving me for the rest of your life”. The screams from the crowd reached a crescendo.
She paused, my heart was pounding like a mad drummer thumping his drum. It seemed like an eternity until she replied, “Yes”. At that instant there was another burst of screams from the audience.
"I Will Love You Forever"
Pulling the ring out of my pocket and offering it to her I said, “Thank you for loving me. Thank you for bringing joy to my life. Thank you for changing my life.”
Then when I said “You are my destiny” the flood gates opened as she burst into tears.
“You are God’s Great Gorgeous Gift to my life (4G).” I said
“No matter what. We have the most amazing love story because of God. We met in an adoration chapel. We became best friends first. And it was over the death of my brother that we actually fell in love. And that really shows that God is the author of our love story. I love you! So I will love you forever.”
Brendan Roberts is an author of 6 books, speaker, missionary, and lay theologian. He shares his deep knowledge of the faith as well as his many experiences in life, including traveling the world in answer to God's call to share the Gospel. His writing style is down to earth, full of witty humor while bringing alive faith, everyday experiences, and Theology.
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