30 Years in the West: From Hawaii to San Jose
by: Myrtle Obcena Alegado
A ten-hour flight to Hawaii from Toronto, and after that a five-hour flight to San Jose. That’s how we traveled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the INC in the west.
I don’t remember exact details of how our travel plans all came about, but I know my parents discussed it and my mom was really excited. I mean what a great milestone to witness together as a family! So my then fiancé (now husband) Paul, and I went ahead to celebrate with his family in Hawaii and then we met up with my parents and sister in San Jose.
In Honolulu, the members of the Church of Christ definitely showed their warm welcome full of Aloha. I recall they even made flower leis for all the brothers and sisters arriving from different places. You could see their pride at being the first place to hold a worship service outside of the Philippines.
I remember lining up at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu and standing outside in the heat. It was quite a long line up already since brethren went there pretty early to try to get seats up front. Everyone was so excited to see the Deputy Executive Minister at the time, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, and witness him preach the lesson. So there we were, chatting with some of our friends, and then Paul’s cousin Darwin ran up to us and said, “We’ve been looking for you! We have seats reserved for you already because they put the pioneers and their families at the front row.” Surprised and so happy, we were able to go inside right away and take our seats beside Paul’s grandparents and all their immediate family members.
After the service we enjoyed lunch together outside in the fresh air and then headed back in to watch the amazing program. We had several friends who were performing, and we were really in awe of the quality of their performances. The singing took our breath away. It was definitely a moment I will never forget.
After the celebration in Honolulu, off to San Jose we went. We arranged it with my parents and sister so that we would all arrive together on the same day, and then check into the hotel as a family. When we got to the hotel , we were excited to see, not just my family, but so many other INC members and friends we hadn’t seen in several years. It really felt like one big reunion.
Even on the day of the actual celebration, we kept running into old friends from New York, other parts of California and of course there was a good-sized contingent from Hawaii as well. Seeing everyone made the world feel a little smaller, understanding that the Church had indeed expanded far and wide. It was awesome to share that experience with my family and friends and I was in awe at how all the members of the Church of Christ back then could fill a large venue, all united in their joy and love for the Church.
What more with today? The anticipation of seeing double, maybe triple, the number of brethren in one place, truly is exciting. My entire family and I look forward to celebrating the 50th in the West at both locations once more this year – Hawaii and Northern California – this time with our daughter. I’m excited for Noelani to see exactly where we were 20 years before, retracing the journey that Brother Erano G. Manalo took when God used him as an instrument in the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the expansion of the Church Of Christ in the Far West in 1968. I look forward to her meeting brethren from all over North America and for her to understand just how vast the Church’s reach is all over the world, from the efforts that all started with God’s Messenger in these last days, Brother Felix Y. Manalo. So many blessings upon blessings have been showered not only on us, but the Church as a whole since 1998, we’re just so thankful to be able to be a part of it all.