Our Love Story: Life Before Sam [Part Three]

June 2006 | Ponderosa Pines Resort – Big Bear Lake, California

For a significant part of my life, my family and I lived in Southern California. I grew up with one younger sibling (my brother Jeremy) and have a very large extended family in Nevada, Arizona, New Jersey and the Philippines.

My parents raised us in the Catholic faith. My family is not very religious; however, we have always been traditional Catholic throughout the many generations. Praying the Rosary and going to Sunday Mass has always been a part of our routine.

During my years at St. John Bosco high school, I was a shy, nerdy, and somewhat introverted kid. While most of my classmates and friends spent their free time playing basketball, I would be at the library reading technical manuals on Aerodynamics, Aviation Instrument Landing Systems and Thermodynamics. I wanted to either be an Astronaut or a pilot when I grew up (although that obviously didn’t happen). Being a nerd in high school definitely played a major influence in what I would major in college.

After graduating high school, I decided to purse a degree in Computer Information Science. This wasn’t exactly what my parents wanted me to go to school for. They wanted me to either be a doctor or lawyer. I have a major phobia of blood and needles so the doctor route was completely out of the picture. I also have absolutely no interest in becoming a lawyer.

My college years was very uneventful. I literally just wanted to get graduation over with so I could get a good paying career. My plans changed when I met (and dated) my first serious girlfriend. We dated until about a year before we both graduated. We were serious enough that we started talking about marriage (although we were never engaged). I’m so glad it ended because it would’ve been a horrific nightmare.

After college, I landed my first job as an Internet Service Engineer for an ISP (Internet Service Provider) and eventually transitioned into working for several Healthcare companies handling their network and database Systems. During that time, a lot of crappy stuff was going on in my life It was just a bad time in my life.

April 2005, Bellflower, California. Denise’s Bible Study Group. I invited my grandma (next to me) one night to meet my Bible Study friends.

Back in 2005, I decided to randomly check out a “Christian” coffee and music social event at the church a block away from my place. I was interested, and everyone was super friendly. While I was there, I met a lady named Denise who was starting up a “Bible Study Group” at her place. She invited me to be a part of it, and I agreed. That was the moment that triggered the beginning of where I am today. I eventually transitioned out of this church group and began going to RockHarbor Church in Costa Mesa, California. In a nutshell, it was the most unique, interesting, and upbeat church I’ve ever seen in my life. Naturally, I joined and it became part of my spiritual and social life.

December 2005. My very first Life Group at RockHarbor Church.

In November of 2006, I unexpectedly lost one of my closest friends, Brandy. Looking back, that was one of the most traumatic and unforgettable moment in my life. That moment made me realize that life is unpredictable. That prompted me or change my perspective in living like everyday was the last (which wasn’t really a healthy way to live).

August 2006 | Brandy (left) with my family (and my Grandma) as we celebrated my birthday at Seafood Town, a Chinese restaurant in the South Bay are.

For the next several years, I’ve struggled to recover from what happened in 2006. I was really blessed that God placed me with a wonderful community of friends who helped me overcome this ordeal.

From 2006 to 2014, I boxed myself on the “Orange County Christian Bubble” and made my church communities my social and spiritual life. Despite all the challenges, joys, pains, drama and everything in between, those were one of the best and most memorable years of my life. Looking back, I still cannot believe how I was able to live my life that way I did back then. I made so many friends and never got home earlier than 10 pm every single day. It burned me out completely, but I loved it.

I could write so many pages telling you about these past few years. But a picture is worth a thousand words. So, here are a few photos to show a glimpse of what life was like before I eventually met my eternal companion.

December 2012 | Christmas Carousel at OC Great Park with Itzel. She is one of my closest friends who lives both in Mexico City and Southern California
October 2013 | Weekend getaway with Lauren & Nicole to Temecula’s different wineries. Back in the days, I used to love going wine tasting at the different wineries.
March 2014 | Yosemite National Park week-long adventure with the girls. Lots of Hiking, Glamping and unforgettable exploring at California’s most famous National Park.
December 2015 | Celebrating an early Christmas with food, friends and fun at Lauren’s new apartment in Downtown Long Beach.

Back in those days, RockHarbor Church (the Church I used to go to) was famous for it’s vast abundance of the most beautiful single ladies for it’s Church members. So as a single guy going through this “Church discovery” phase, it was a pretty easy decision for me to join in. I really thought that I would eventually date and marry my future wife during that time. I had no idea she would be living hundreds of miles away from me in Utah. I also had no idea that in a few short years, I would meet the “Mormons” and be moving to Utah.

Stay tuned for part three of our story!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s