Marrying a Filipina, Moving Back to the USA, & Becoming a Father: Interview with Kevin Sanders

I have crossed paths with Pastor Kevin Sanders in the Philippines before we moved to the United States in 2015. He was a missionary and worked with youth and students in Manila and in Pampanga. He has lived in the Philippines for a total of 11 years! He can also understand and speak Tagalog.

In this interview, Kuya Kevin and I talk about many things:

  • his experience as an American missionary in the Philippines;
  • how he met his wife in the Philippines, got married, and moved back to the US;
  • what he has learned after being married to a Filipina;
  • what it is like becoming a father, and raising a biracial kid; and
  • some nuances and corrections about perceptions on American family culture, as well as some challenges he has seen among families of overseas Filipinos.
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Fatherhood: Raising Kids in a Foreign Country, Fitness, and Dealing with Miscarriage

Almost a year ago, I sat down virtually with Pastor Melvin Guerrero, who moved to the USA a year before I did. We talked about the challenges of adjusting to a new life in the US, raising kids, fitness, and how they dealt with two miscarriages.

Watch our full conversation below on YouTube. If you prefer the audio version, continue scrolling down and listen via SoundCloud.com.

I have known Pastor Melvin Guerrero back in the Philippines because we both belong to the United Methodist Church. He moved to Jacksonville, FL in the USA in 2014 with his wife and kids. He also came on an R1 visa before becoming a permanent resident.

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Fatherhood & Raising Kids: Conversation with Pastor Caloy Dino

I planned to post a few interviews with fathers sometime in 2020. But, as with many things lately, life happened! My schedule had severely changed with the coming of our third son, the pandemic, and working from home. A number of personal projects needed to take a backseat. Oh, and I have many stories about managing family life with my wife Cha! Having three young boys is a handful! But those stories need to wait. Thankfully, I found some time recently and now I am posting the first in a series of posts about fatherhood with this interview with Pastor Caloy DiƱo.

Who is Kuya Caloy Dino?

Kuya Caloy Dino served with several Christian organizations in the Philippines: Far Eastern Broadcasting Company (FEBC), Global Filipino Movement, and at the Center for Community Transformation. Prior to entering full-time ministry, he was a marketing consultant and worked with some of the top companies in the Philippines. He is married and has three kids.

He and I worked together on projects several years ago for Christian radio station FEBC and with other initiatives and social media training for churches and Christian organizations in the Philippines. We also got together regularly with other like-minded folks, sharing stories and ideas on how to make the world a better place.

In this video, we talk about fatherhood and the challenges of raising kids, juggling time for work, ministry, and family. Enjoy!

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How Much Does it Cost Monthly to Live in the USA?

If you are planning to move to the USA, you’re probably wondering about the cost of living in America? I found an online tool that calculates this monthly figure.

Watch the video below to discover this tool and see how much it costs to live in the US monthly. DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE on YouTube!

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Furnish Your First Apartment: A Guide for Newcomers in the USA

Moving to the USA feels like restarting your life, but in a foreign land.

Do you remember the first time you rented a room or an apartment in College? How about when you first moved out of your parents’ house to start building your career? Or when you first got married?

In all of these cases, you had to buy almost everything you needed. Sometimes you received gifts and giveaways from your family and friends.

When you first arrive in the USA, you will need to buy a lot of things! A lot!

Thanks to the World Wide Web, you can now order most of your needs online. This is even better for the bigger items such as a sofa or mattress, especially if you don’t have a pickup truck!

Here’s a list of all the things you will need to buy right after you arrive in the USA and secured your first apartment.

Most of the items below are from Amazon.com. If you ever purchase on Amazon, make sure to signup for Amazon Prime membership to enjoy free two-day shipping and other perks.

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Our Green Card Timeline

In March 2015, I received my US R-1 Visa, which allowed me to accept a job offer in the Philippines. If you’re not familiar, R-1 is the visa granted for religious workers to work legally in the USA. Although I am not a pastor, I moved to the USA to take on a job with a religious organization, which is tre church I belong to–The United Methodist Church.

Based on conversations with our organization’s lawyer, and based on my reading of the requirements, I need to wait until I have completed two (2) years of service with my current organization before I could apply for a Green Card.

My official first day of work was May 1, 2015. That meant that the earliest time I could apply for a Green Card is May 1, 2017.

Just to make sure that I would not be a out-of-status in the US, my employer applied for an extension of my R-1 visa. The initial R-1 visa is good for two and a half years, renewable for another 2.5 years for a total of 5 years.

We got the extension but I didn’t apply right away. I got occupied by my responsibilities at work, which is why it took me another year to apply.

Here’s our Green Card timeline

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How to Apply for a US Green Card WITHOUT a Lawyer: 7 Tips

The process to apply for a Green Card of Permanent Residence in the US can be complicated and expensive. But if you are willing to read a lot of documents, and carefully fill out the application forms, you can choose not to use a lawyer’s services.

Disclaimer: This is not a legal advice on immigration. I am just sharing my experience for educational purposes.

Here are 7 tips to help you apply for a US Green Card without a lawyer.

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Moving to the USA? Teach Your Child the Filipino Language First

Our son Malcolm was a few months short of two years when we started planning for our move to the USA.

We decided to start talking to him mainly in English to help him prepare for the transition since he will be surrounded by English-speaking Americans.

Nope, that is not how it turned out. We were wrong.

Teach Filipino first!

Looking back, the same reasoning would have helped our son acquire Filipino as a mother-tongue first. Since he’s surrounded by English-speaking people–in church, at school, and in our neighborhood he could easily pick the language up.

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Don’t Submit Documents Unless Asked For: Lesson Learned from our Ongoing Green Card Application

Back in October 2018, we applied for Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the USA. We initially did not include the medical examination (Form I-693). The form said that we can submit it at a later time, which, I thought, made sense.

So in June 2019, I sent our Forms I-693 to the USCIS. It had a cover letter and included the receipt numbers for our application, as well as our A numbers.

As it turned out, we should not have done that.

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Moving to a New Apartment in Nashville

Originally published in July 2019.

I am no stranger to moving to a different house. While I was growing, my father, who was an itinerant preacher, moved from one church to another every 1-3 years.

The longest time we spent at a parsonage (a house assigned to a church’s pastor) was six years. By the time I turned twenty, we have stayed at about 10 houses.

In 2015, my wife and I reduced our belongings, packed the essentials, and moved from Manila, Philippines to Nashville, TN USA as I started a new job.

So I do know about moving and packing things.

We’re saying goodbye to this house in a couple of weeks!
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