Marrying a Filipina, Moving Back to the USA, & Becoming a Father: Interview with Kevin Sanders

I have crossed paths with Pastor Kevin Sanders in the Philippines before we moved to the United States in 2015. He was a missionary and worked with youth and students in Manila and in Pampanga. He has lived in the Philippines for a total of 11 years! He can also understand and speak Tagalog. Interestingly, he is also friends with Melvin Guerrero, who I interviewed in an earlier blog post and video.

In this interview, Kuya Kevin and I talk about many things:

  • his experience as an American missionary in the Philippines;
  • how he met his wife in the Philippines, got married, and moved back to the US;
  • what he has learned after being married to a Filipina;
  • what it is like becoming a father, and raising a biracial kid; and
  • some nuances and corrections about perceptions on American family culture, as well as some challenges he has seen among families of overseas Filipinos.

Connect with Kevin online

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Fatherhood: Raising Kids in a Foreign Country, Fitness, and Dealing with Miscarriage

Almost a year ago, I sat down virtually with Pastor Melvin Guerrero, who moved to the USA a year before I did. We talked about the challenges of adjusting to a new life in the US, raising kids, fitness, and how they dealt with two miscarriages.

Watch our full conversation below on YouTube. If you prefer the audio version, continue scrolling down and listen via SoundCloud.com.

I have known Pastor Melvin Guerrero back in the Philippines because we both belong to the United Methodist Church. He moved to Jacksonville, FL in the USA in 2014 with his wife and kids. He also came on an R1 visa before becoming a permanent resident.

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Fatherhood & Raising Kids: Conversation with Pastor Caloy Dino

I planned to post a few interviews with fathers sometime in 2020. But, as with many things lately, life happened! My schedule had severely changed with the coming of our third son, the pandemic, and working from home. A number of personal projects needed to take a backseat. Oh, and I have many stories about managing family life with my wife Cha! Having three young boys is a handful! But those stories need to wait. Thankfully, I found some time recently and now I am posting the first in a series of posts about fatherhood with this interview with Pastor Caloy Diño.

Who is Kuya Caloy Dino?

Kuya Caloy Dino served with several Christian organizations in the Philippines: Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Global Filipino Movement, and at the Center for Community Transformation. Prior to entering full-time ministry, he was a marketing consultant and worked with some of the top companies in the Philippines. He is married and has three kids.

He and I worked together on projects several years ago for Christian radio station FEBC and with other initiatives and social media training for churches and Christian organizations in the Philippines. We also got together regularly with other like-minded folks, sharing stories and ideas on how to make the world a better place.

In this video, we talk about fatherhood and the challenges of raising kids, juggling time for work, ministry, and family. Enjoy!

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Furnish Your First Apartment: A Guide for Newcomers in the USA

Moving to the USA feels like restarting your life, but in a foreign land.

Do you remember the first time you rented a room or an apartment in College? How about when you first moved out of your parents’ house to start building your career? Or when you first got married?

In all of these cases, you had to buy almost everything you needed. Sometimes you received gifts and giveaways from your family and friends.

When you first arrive in the USA, you will need to buy a lot of things! A lot!

Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can now order most of your needs online. This is even better for the bigger items such as a sofa or mattress, especially if you don’t have a pickup truck!

Here’s a list of all the things you will need to buy right after you arrive in the USA and secured your first apartment.

Most of the items below are from Amazon.com. If you ever purchase on Amazon, make sure to signup for Amazon Prime membership to enjoy free two-day shipping and other perks.

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Our Green Card Timeline

In March 2015, I received my US R-1 Visa, which allowed me to accept a job offer in the Philippines. If you’re not familiar, R-1 is the visa granted for religious workers to work legally in the USA. Although I am not a pastor, I moved to the USA to take on a job with a religious organization, which is tre church I belong to–The United Methodist Church.

Based on conversations with our organization’s lawyer, and based on my reading of the requirements, I need to wait until I have completed two (2) years of service with my current organization before I could apply for a Green Card.

My official first day of work was May 1, 2015. That meant that the earliest time I could apply for a Green Card is May 1, 2017.

Just to make sure that I would not be a out-of-status in the US, my employer applied for an extension of my R-1 visa. The initial R-1 visa is good for two and a half years, renewable for another 2.5 years for a total of 5 years.

We got the extension but I didn’t apply right away. I got occupied by my responsibilities at work, which is why it took me another year to apply.

Here’s our Green Card timeline

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Disaster Preparedness in the USA

My phone’s alarm rang at 6 am on March 3, 2020. I turned the alarm off and after a few minutes, I checked Facebook.

What I saw alarmed me. A strong tornado ripped through Nashville (Tennessee) between midnight and 3 am! To make things worse, I was in Raleigh, North Carolina attending a 3-day meeting. My wife and sons remained in Nashville.

The photos all over Facebook and the news showed buildings without roofs, overturned cars, and electricity poles blocking the roads!

After trying to call my wife several times, she texted me. They heard the tornado warnings, hid in the safe space at home, and when the tornado passed by, they went back to bed.

From my hotel room in Raleigh, I let out a sigh of relief!

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Follow Me on YouTube and Learn What It’s Like to Live as a Filipino in the USA

I’ve had my YouTube channel for a couple of years now. But I have not really uploaded much content there.

That has changed!

Finally, I mustered enough courage to relaunch my YouTube channel. The past few weeks, I uploaded several videos to show what it is like to live as a Filipino in the United States of America.

Subscribe and Follow Me!

If you want to learn about the joys and fun stuff of living in America, or to be aware of the challenges, and just learn about How-Tos of being an Overseas Filipino, go subscribe to my channel at http://aMightyLife.com/YouTube.

Right now, I have uploaded some fun stuff that Malcolm (my firstborn) and I have done together; what winter is like in Nashville; and services such as Remitly and Xoom to use for sending money to the Philippines.

In the next few weeks and months, I plan to post more videos documenting our life in the US and sharing How-Tos and tutorials on visa application, Green Card application, Personal Finance, and even Filipino food and restaurants in the USA.

Watch this welcome video to learn more about my channel!

Do you have questions or thoughts about living in the USA? Or do you have suggestions about topics for the channel? Let me know in the comments!

A Review of My mid- to late Thirties!

I turned thirty in 2012. It was a huge milestone. I didn’t become depressed or anything. But I remember feeling reflective about my life so far, what I have accomplished, and what the future holds for me. 

By the end of 2012, it was a few weeks before my 2nd year anniversary with my lovely wife. We didn’t have a child back then and we were renting an apartment in Anahaw Street, Project 7 in Quezon City in the Philippines. 

Although we didn’t have a child yet, we were taking care of three college-age young men–my younger brother Aaron, her brother Chad, and her cousin King. It was fun albeit chaotic sometimes. 

I am in my late thirties–and I will reach the big 4-0 in 2022. That’s two years from when I’m writing this post. It’s good to look back and review the milestones of the decade of my thirties. 

Here’s a list of how my life changed, including some achievements! 

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Wanna be a father?… “You lose a book for every child…”

After having two kids, and another one on the way, by now, I should be a better father–accepting both the blessings and limitations imposed by being a father.

I have yet to reach 40. To be honest, I still am adjusting to this role. After all, fatherhood is a process–a life stage. And every life stage takes getting used to. Some of these stages are easier to transition to than others.

Success, Achievement, and Fatherhood

Elsewhere in this blog, I have written about the price of success and achievement and how Steve Jobs focused on his career to the detriment of his relationship with his daughter.

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