Howard & Nenita’s Story

As told by Howard:

Nenita and I first met in the late 1970s. I used to sponsor several children through World Vision, and Nenita was the Sponsor Relations Officer who accompanied the sponsors to meet their children. Marissa was the sponsored child I visited. She lived In Dagupan, about 5 hours’ drive from the Philippines capital, Manila.

After I returned to Australia, Nenita and I exchanged letters, and got to know each other quite well. A few visits and many long letters later we spent some time with friends in the Philippines, and I managed to propose to Nenita. After a little while, I received a positive answer, and we were married on January 19th, 1980. We honeymooned at Legazpi, near Mt. Mayon, an active volcano. Marissa, our sponsored child, was able to attend our wedding, which was fantastic!

Shortly afterwards, I had to return home to start school again. Nenita stayed for another three weeks to finalise things, and then flew out to Sydney, where I met her, and we spent some time together with my family in Sydney, before flying back to Melbourne to begin married life together. We travelled around Victoria and New South Wales during school holidays. A day after our first wedding anniversary, our son, Tim was born. He was a happy, fun-loving boy, and brought us much joy.

Three years later, Melissa arrived. We really loved these two additions to our family. They are now adults and both married. Melissa married Norman, and they have Oscar (8) and Ally (5). Tim and Emily have three children – Elijah (7), and twins, Audrey and Charlotte (3). Both families live in New South Wales, so during the pandemic, we couldn’t visit, but had to be satisfied with regular video chats. Hopefully they will all be able to visit us for Christmas/New Year.

I was a teacher for 42 years and Principal for 15 years at state schools in Melbourne, Clunes and Macarthur Street School in Ballarat, where I attended as a student and retired from The Education Department as Principal there. I later became Principal at Ballarat Christian School for 4 1/2 years.

I have been very involved at one2one Church of Christ in Alfredton, I was an Elder and Chair of Elders, Men’s Group Co-ordinator, Boomers & Friends Co-ordinator, Seniors Group Convener, giving children’s talks and Bible Study Group Leader, as well as assisting in the Church services. In 2009, I wrote a 164 page book outlining the 150 year-old history of our Church. We have records going back to the Church’s beginning in 1859.

Nenita has also been involved in many activities and roles. She was an Enjo (cleaning materials) and USANA (nutritional supplements) representative. Her Church roles included Sunday School Teacher, Religious Education Teacher in primary schools, Mentor for the Mothers of Pre-schoolers Group, Kids Hope Mentor for Kids Hope Program in primary schools, Bible Study Leader, Seniors Group Co-convenor, Member of the Prayer Group and Ladies Craft Group. Other roles have included Kindergarten Committee Member, Member of the Filipino-Australian Association of Ballarat, Matriarch and Adviser to Filipinas newly-arrived in Ballarat She also worked for Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council in Reception, Administration and was Volunteer Co-ordinator for several years. So you can see that we have led very busy lives!

In our retirement, Nenita and I have been fortunate enough to travel quite extensively in Europe, Asia and North America, and this year in February, to celebrate our 40th Wedding Anniversary, we took a cruise to Norway in the European Winter. The snow-covered scenery was magnificent.

Unfortunately, during the cruise, Nenita’s brother passed away, so we went back to the Philippines to farewell him, taking continuous flights from London – Dubai – Melbourne – Manila, a total of 27 hours in flight or at airports! On arrival back in Ballarat, we self-isolated for 14 days, and then like everyone else endured the many months of COVID-19 restrictions. However, we found those long months a good time to relax and give time to each other.

During the pandemic we have been blessed by many friends, including our amazing Social Support Team from BRMC, who have helped out with food, manual help and much love, which we have greatly appreciated. We sincerely thank all our friends at BRMC for their continued commitment and dedication to our Seniors. You are all very much appreciated!