An Address Label Changed My Life

On April 20, 1968, a teenage girl, traveling alone in a foreign country, sat scared and shivering in the San Francisco International Airport. She kept rubbing her arms to keep warm. It was not this cold back home in the Philippines. A man wearing a long coat sat close by and kept watching her. Finally, he approached her, took off his coat and gave it to her. How kind. What a wonderful place America must be, she thought.

Her travel to America started with an address label that she had peeled off a church magazine. It was because of the name on the label that her life was changed.

While on the plane, she remembered the many times she sat at the gate of the Elementary School, quite devastated and crying because she couldn’t go to school. She had to help her mother earn a living. At 14 years of age, with 9 brothers and sisters and big money problems, her dream of finishing college seemed impossible. Before entering the academy, she had already quit school for two years, so she followed the advice of her sister. “Write to someone in the States,” she said. She spent months praying and scanning religious magazines. She found American names but no addresses.

But one afternoon, her life was to change forever.

An uncle came to visit and in his arms was a package of old Review and Heralds from America. As the uncle laid the package down, the sight of an almost-peeled off address label caught her eye. Afraid that her uncle would say, “No,” she tore off the address label without asking and hid it in her room. That night, while everyone slept, she wrote to a Mrs. Beryl McLarty in Memphis, TN. Amazingly, the lady answered! She found out that the lady was 75 years old and willing to sponsor her. She became her American Grandma.

She went to Philippine Union College in Manila. After her freshman year, Dr. Barney McLarty, Grandma McLarty’s son, sent for her to come to US to surprise Grandma McLarty on Mother’s Day. It was so nice to meet her wonderful and generous American Grandma at last. She later found out it was the doctor who was sending her to college.

After her two-months visit in Memphis, she went back to Manila, continued her studies and graduated with a Medical Technology degree. Then, Dr. McLarty sent for her again to live with her Grandma in Memphis. Her Grandma died a year later. She got married, had two sons, sent 2 sisters to Nursing School, helped send for her parents and siblings and today they all live here in the U.S.

How do I know that this story is true? Because I was that teenager.

God has been so wonderful to me that I wanted to pay back His kindness by helping others. In the past 30 years, I’ve helped dozens of less-fortunate students get a Christian education in our Adventist colleges in the Philippines.

My life is not entirely a bed of roses because my husband of 23 years, Edwin Wallace, passed away in 1999. I built Batiano SDA Church in Odiongan, Romblon after the Lord showed it to me in recurring dreams for 8 years.

Today, my “love project” for God is this ministry called “Adopt a Minister International.” Our organization has hundreds of adopted ministers who are being supported monthly by sponsors from all over the world.

My story is not unique. I’m not someone special. Anyone can reach his dream if he goes to God first and delight in Him always.

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