Between Steps

The “Pambansang Mommy” Signing Off for Now

Last Sunday, on June 16, I tried making one of the hardest phone calls of my life. I ended up recording a voice message for Novema S. Dequito, known to many as Momee Vee.

I first met Momee Vee when I moved to Cebu from Bohol to pursue college. I was still in my late teens back in the 1990s. Like many single people in the church at that time, there was an easy connection, a loving welcome.

And when Momee moved to Olongapo for a time, we wrote each other letters! She stayed there to help in the restaurant owned by her sister Brenda and Brenda’s husband, Roger. I loved Momee Vee’s letters! She had beautiful penmanship which most at Grace Communion International (GCI) Cebu/Mactan would be familiar with. I still have those letters.

Momee Vee and Spice Girls. I remember that Olongapo was affected by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo thereby affecting Brenda and Roger’s restaurant and so Momee Vee came home. Our friendship continued.

And when the church began facing doctrinal changes in the mid ‘90s, somehow, I found myself with a tight group of friends: Momee Vee, Gloria Cuevas (Milog), Alice Busalla (now Davis) and Joyous “Joy” Reuyan (now Dabon). Milog had also been one my close friends before this group came about. I know Alice and Joy, but we were not close before, though Joy was my camper in SEP 1994 (nationwide church youth camp in Baguio).

This group which consisted of 5 friends got even closer in the midst of the changes that the church faced. We talked and laughed together. We prayed and cried together. That Alice had a car through her job made the praying and crying sessions possible because sometimes we will just park even around Ayala Center to pray together. Yup, before Ayala had all those big buildings which we can see now. We also drove to Alice’s and Gloria’s house for long talks and extended prayer sessions ending in sleepovers. Our love for Jesus and passion to serve Him continued to stir our group.

We served in whatever way we could then, mostly in setting up the venue for church services, leading/helping in worship, working with the young people, among others. Those were amazing days and years of knowing and helping each other, knowing and serving the Lord more together.

If I remember right, it was Ma’am Fe Pusta who first called us Spice Girls. A name we continue to call our small group to this day.

Momee Vee (in white) with the rest of “Spice Girls”.

Transitions and Relocations. Alice was the first to get married in the group eventually moving for good away from Cebu. I heeded God’s call to missions and also relocated to Thailand and eventually to Butuan City (Mindanao). Joy also got married and then pursued law school (while pregnant and passed the bar!).

Despite the transitions and relocations, our bond remained strong. Thanks to social media, we continued to keep in touch by having our own messenger group. We also had reunions whenever Alice and I visited Cebu. We also had times when we travelled together and we tried our best to be there during key occasions in our lives.

There have been innumerable times of laughter and tears and as Ate Linda Busalla would say, how do you really begin talking about it all. I look back and praise God for such a wonderful friendship we have shared with Momee Vee.

Always Grateful. I will always be grateful to Momee Vee’s many special gifts which she abundantly shared with family, friends and with the church. She was amazing in dealing with people – her energy seemed boundless. Her friendships cut through all ages. Her gift in empathy and caring for others was something we all could attest to. She was humble, patient and loving. It was a blessing to watch her and learn from her. And she was open to learning, even from corrections.  This is but one brief paragraph to say how grateful I am for her. Which brings us back to that phone call last Sunday.

I did not want to admit it might be my last call to tell her that I love her and how much I am grateful for her. After she got sick last year, our video calls have been tinged with both tears and laughter. When Joy and I visited her last year when I was in Cebu, I had really hoped she would get better.

But it appears that her time and work here is already done according to God’s timetable.

Today, we mourn but we do so with hope. Because we know that Momee Vee is just signing off only for now. We will see her again in glory because of the wonderful gift and plan of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ (John 11:25-26).

Truly, we are always grateful and look forward to seeing you again, Momee Vee!

There was that memorable online reunion!

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