y parents, sister and brother-in-law were due in on the 1:50 p.m. flight from Cebu, so Emelda and I went to the Plaza Beatriz where she knew that we could arrange to hire a truck to pick them up at the airport. After that, we returned to Emelda's house where we both could take much-needed baths (no shower at the hospital) and get some lunch before my family's arrival.

As we headed toward the airport, Emelda's nerves were beginning to get the better of her. She was very nervous at the thought of meeting my parents. On top of that, she was worried that my family would be mad at her because of the fact that I had to be admitted to the hospital. I tried to assure her that my parents would love her and that the blame would not be placed on her, but she was still very tense. I was just relieved that I was not still in the hospital.

Emelda's family waited with us at the airport. Emelda got more and more nervous as time marched on. Emelda jokingly asked me to stand in front of her when my parents exited the terminal so that they couldn't see her. I continued to try to calm her as we walked around the tiny airport which was teeming with people waiting for loved ones. I had my video camera with me and was ready to catch their arrival.

Suddenly, a loud buzzing sound hit my ears. In a few moments, we spotted the incoming plane with it's loud propeller engines signaling the impending landing. I turned the camera on and caught the plane as it taxied toward the terminal. Emelda started moaning and pleading with me to make her nerves disappear. I just told her to relax to no avail as I videotaped the passengers disembarking from the plane. Every time we spotted a white person (there were some businessmen on the flight who were visiting Ozamiz), we perked up, thinking that it was one of my family members.

We waited and watched and watched and waited. Five minutes went by. Ten minutes went by. Fifteen minutes went by. The last of the passengers exited the plane and my family was nowhere in sight. They had not been on the flight. I turned off the video camera and stopped fighting the urge to get angry. I sucked my anger inside and it soon turned to concern and disappointment. I did not know why they had missed the flight and I had no way to get in touch with them. Generally, I like to be in control of every aspect of my life and at that moment, I was not in control at all. Emelda and I informed everyone else about the situation. Disappointed looks abounded as we all piled into two trucks and dispersed.

Emelda and I returned with the driver to The Plaza Beatriz, so that we could inform them of the situation and change my family's reservations. The driver expected to be paid the full fare of 600 pesos ($23.08) (100 per person) even though four of his passengers had not arrived. Frustrated, I paid him and Emelda and I returned to her house in a motor.

Back home, I located the phone numbers for Philippine Airlines and after getting a busy signal several times, I finally got through to a human. I discovered that my family's flight from Manila to Cebu had been delayed and that there was no way that they could've gotten on the Cebu to Ozamiz flight in time. It was Wednesday. Since the next flight to Ozamiz was on Friday (a flight that was booked up) and since there was no flight on Saturday (our wedding day), I was very concerned that my family would not be able to attend the wedding. After all of their preparations and the tremendous expense involved with the trip, the thought of them missing the ceremony put me in tears. Emelda was now the one doing the calming.

Knowing how resourceful my family is, I calmed down after a short time and realized that if there was a way on God's green Earth for them to get to Ozamiz by our wedding date; they would find it. We went over their options. Flying was out. No other airlines flew from Cebu to Ozamiz. Driving was out because Cebu City is on the island of Cebu and Ozamiz is on the island of Mindanao. They are separated by a large body of water (too large for a bridge to traverse). That left the only logical option; my family would hopefully find a ship to bring them to Ozamiz.

Since Emelda's father worked at the dock, it was easy to find out that there were ships arriving from Cebu at 5 a.m., 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the following morning. We all made plans to get up early and be ready to meet the 5 a.m. ship after it docked. If they weren't on that ship, we'd have two more chances later in the day. We went to bed early, praying for the best. Ships in The Philippines do not have very good reputations. One or two of them sink every year. Knowing this, I prayed extra hard that night. The day's events has successfully diffused Emelda's nervousness and I was too tired from my hospital adventure to brood. We both slept well.

In the morning, we awakened at 3 a.m. and began getting ready. Emelda heated up some water so that I could have a warm bath (usually, the water is quite cold) and I started the day out with a positive attitude (and no messy vomiting). The diarrhea situation had improved but I was not quite out of the woods on that score. After a little breakfast, we hiked to the road in the morning darkness. After traversing the paved road for awhile, Emelda's father ran ahead and brought us back a motor.

Later, our gang of ten or twelve disembarked from the motor and I paid the tab. I could see a ship coming into the dock and I hoped that we were about to get lucky. We walked to the end of the public area of the dock (a chain link fence prevented us from getting close to the ship) and Emelda's father (wearing his dock worker uniform) went ahead into the docking area. There was only one chair to sit in and several of Emelda's relatives practically demanded that I sit in it. I was the only one sitting and a large crowd of people blocked my view of the ship. I wanted to stand so that I could try to spot my family, but I didn't want to be rude.

As I sat there, the light misty rain became heavier. After a short amount of time, someone yelled that there were white people exiting the ship. I perked up but fought the urge to stand. When Emelda relayed a message from her father which said, "Your family is on the ship," I jumped to my feet as the rain turned into a downpour. About five minutes later, I saw a large man in a Fedora hat (like Indiana Jones wears) walk by. From behind, he looked like my father, but I had no knowledge of my dad owning such a hat. I looked at the people walking with him as Emelda asked me if I had spotted my family. Immediately, I saw my sister and my mother and said, "That's them!"

My family had been walking hurriedly away from my location in order to get out of the rain so I along with Emelda's family members had to jog quickly to catch up to them. As I ran up next to my mother, I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Welcome to Italy!" (a line from the movie Stripes). Since there were several porters vying to help the big Americans, my mom didn't hear or see me. I patted her on the shoulder and stepped in front of her and said, "Mom!" Her look of extreme shock turned to relief as she said, "Jeff? Jeff! Oh, it's so good to see you! How did you know to come here?"
Dad tries to rest on the ship

I explained how we narrowed down their options and my father told me that he had a feeling that I was going to be there when they arrived. They had just come off of over 24 hours straight of traveling and were exhausted (the boat ride itself lasted ten hours). Now, the rain was reaching it's peak intensity. We all took cover under an awning as Emelda's relatives sent the eager porters away. The introductions had already began and because Emelda and I had been separated in the confusion, she was left to fend for herself with my parents. She did fine. Everyone was ecstatic that the wayward travelers had made it to Ozamiz and would be able to attend the wedding (no one was happier than I).

When the rain subsided about ten minutes later (rain usually doesn't last long in Ozamiz), we decided to take my family to The Plaza Beatriz so that they could check in and get some rest. They had been planning on heading to The Asian Hotel if I had not been at the dock (since I thought that they would be staying there, I told them that The Plaza Beatriz was their backup hotel). I was glad that I was there to escort them to the nicer hotel. We checked them in and made plans to return to bring them back to Emelda's house around noon. Emelda was in a great mood and felt relieved that her first meeting with my family had gone so well.