it was late 1997. maybe early 1998. i was in the philippines. maasin, southern leyte. i was a full-time missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.
my companion and i were at a community health fair when we met a man.
okay, i just went downstairs and got out my journal. the health fair was march 13-14, 1998. we met a lot of people there. we also met brother sumaya.
he told us about his adoration of barbara mandrell. told us that he read everything about her he could get his hands on. told about how she had been in a terrible automobile accident and had to have surgery. (that accident was in 1984, but it could have happened that week for how fresh and difficult is was for bro sumaya.)
anyway. he started coming to church. he was a real kook. we were having a lesson on honesty and when the teacher asked (in cebuano) what honesty is/means, bro sumaya stood up and said (in english), “honesty is such a lonely word.” i about died laughing.
one sunday, bro sumaya was sitting next to me and noticed the scar on the back of my arm. he asked what happened.
“oh, i was in a car accident and had to have surgery.”
i am telling you that as the words came out of my mouth, i knew i was in trouble. i knew. a look of realization, of recognition, settled on bro sumaya. i had become his barbara.
on april 9, our congregation had a beach activity to commemorate the fall of bataan.
bro sumaya would not leave me alone. at the very beginning of the activity, he came up and said something to me like, “oh holy mother of the lovely daughter.” it was downhill from there.
he sputtered and spurted and told me he had something he wanted to say but that he had not guts, no guts. finally, at my urging (i had been in the country over a year by now and knew better than to urge any filipino man to say anything he was hesitating to say, but i did it anyway), he declared his love for me. and then he made a sudden move toward my face as if to kiss me. my bob-and-weave skills were intact, and i escaped untouched.
but he kept following me around. he told me i was his barbara mandrell. that in a past life i was lady barbara. he was my knight who came to rescue me.
when i rejected his advances, he lashed out.
“you can go ahead and look for others. go back to america and try as many men as you want, but you will be barren until the time comes when you come back to me forever.”
these words were from the prophets, he said. his prophecy.