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YFU - part of my life's journey
June 04, 2021 11:30

My parents, Louie and Lula Mapua, were avid supporters of YFU and hosted a number of exchange students from the US in the '70s. My older brother, Steve Mapua, was YFU Batch '73 and I was YFU Batch '74.

The impact of YFU was a major force in my life because after I was widowed, my American boyfriend stepped back into my life. I met Tom Schmidt as a 17-year old and as the old adage goes, opposites attract! I was a city girl from Manila; he was an 18-year-old country boy from Michigan. I was a petite 5'2 Filipina with long black hair and he was a tall blonde guy of German ancestry. He loved the outdoors - hunting, fishing, sailing, flying and camping; I was a bookworm who would rather delve in tomes of romance, mystery and adventure.

When I turned 18, he threw me a surprise birthday party and after the guests left, went down on one knee and asked me to marry him, complete with an engagement ring!

Unfortunately, much as my heart wanted to, I used my head.

Tita Lourdes Cruz, head of YFU Philippines, taught us to learn as much about the USA and take our experiences back home and become better people because of our travels. She ingrained in all of us the importance of being good ambassadors of our country. I certainly did not want to disappoint Tita Lourdes nor my parents.

I flew back to Manila in 1974 and went on to college at DLSU. Without telling me, Tom joined the US Navy, hoping to get stationed in Subic so he could see me. Lady Luck was not on his side because he ended up being stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

We both went separate ways, married other wonderful people and both had 3 children on two continents: I had 3 handsome strapping boys and Tom had 3 beautiful blonde daughters.

After 27 years of marriage, life threw me a curve ball and I lost my Filipino husband, Mike, to cancer. It was a dark chapter in my life as I thought my world had ended. I myself had survived cancer and had a special-needs child to take care of. Stefan, my youngest son, had Autism and relied completely upon me.

In God's good time and in His infinite mercy and kindness, brought Tom and me back together again. After 35 years of not seeing each other, through the magic of the internet, we reunited and decided to marry.

On a tropical beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, we "eloped" and got married in 2010 with the help of my mom, my brother and my cousins.

I now live on a lovely 40-acre farm in Michigan with my son, Stefan, and am happily married to the man I fell in love with as a YFU Exchange Student. On Jan. 26, 2022, we will celebrate 12 years of marriage and will go on a cruise to the sunny Caribbean!

Thank you, Tita Lourdes Cruz (+), Tita Emy Celi, to the dedicated YFU staff, for being a part of my life's journey. My husband and I, now in our mid-60s, are always grateful and thankful to Jesus for bringing us together after all these years. We have a thriving business at our farm called "The Little Red Barn of Nunica"!

We transformed our hundred-year-old dairy barn into a rustic, charming and award-winning wedding venue. We are passionate about propagating the sacrament of marriage and are so blessed to be able to work and play together.

All because of YFU. And Jesus.
Story writen by: Cherry Mapua Osmeña Schmidt
Pictures: Tom Schmidt & Cherry Mapua, Prom Night 1974

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