The Journey from Hardships to Blessings
02.09.19 • Lynette Townsend • Volunteer Storyteller
In November of 1997, Roger Basa was visiting his uncle in the Philippines. He was a long way from home: St. Louis, Missouri. On a hot, muggy day, his uncle received an invite to a birthday party, and Roger decided to tag along.
Gina had grown up in the Philippines in a large, close-knit Catholic family; Roger, also Catholic, had attended Catholic school all the way through college.
The birthday celebration, on that fateful day, was for Gina’s father.
“The first time I saw him, my heart said Bump, bump, bump!”
When Roger walked in, all he could think about was how hot it was in the old house. When Gina spotted him, all she could think about was her heart. “The first time I saw him, my heart said Bump, bump, bump!” This had never happened. Gina asked, “Lord, why?” Soon, they were introduced.
Gina’s family was musical, and they all gathered around to play music and sing to honor her father. As Roger took this in, he was extremely moved. He had just found a girl who sang like an angel.
When the party ended and Roger and his uncle left, Gina prayed, “Lord, I’m in trouble. Please remove this. Take this away from me because I don’t know him, except that he’s from Missouri, so please take it away.” But Gina’s strong faith also prompted one more thought. She asked for a sign. “Next time we see each other, he shall bring me roses.”
Roger was not a flower-giving kind of guy. In fact, he had never given flowers aside from the customary corsage. He purchased flowers before he and his uncle picked up Gina to give her a ride across town, and to this day he still can’t tell you why. When Gina got into the car, he handed her a bouquet of roses.
Gina and Roger were able to spend some time getting to know each other before he had to leave. They called each other often, and Gina planned a visit in February to see Roger in the U.S. Gina was a flight attendant at the time, making traveling easy for her. They got married in March in Las Vegas. When they traveled back to the Philippines, they married in the Church in July. After that, they called St. Louis home.
Gina struggled with the move.
Gina struggled with the move. St. Louis was so far from the Philippines. She missed familiar surroundings and her family. She felt lonely and said, “Lord, I am not happy. What have I done?” Then she got pregnant, and Roger and Gina had a son.
But Roger could see that Gina wasn’t happy where they were. He asked her where she wanted to go, and she chose California because it was only a plane ride to the Philippines. After living in Missouri for a year and a half, they moved to California.
While in New Jersey, Roger and Gina were given some shattering news about their son: he was diagnosed with autism.
The settled in Orange County and Roger found a job. But before he could start work in Irvine, the company sent Roger and the family to New Jersey for a year—they were on another journey again. Their son was two at the time. While in New Jersey, Roger and Gina were given some shattering news about their son: he was diagnosed with autism. They had no idea what this meant; all they could think was, “What did we do? Why did this happen to us?”
Once they moved back to California, it was there that they began to educate themselves about autism. They did everything they could to help their son. There were many battles with his school, and they leaned heavily on their faith to help them through the struggles.
Once things started to lighten up for them, they searched for a church to call home. They started with one parish, but it didn’t quite meet their needs. Part convenience, and part fate, they attended Mass at Corpus Christi in 2007. They never looked any further.
Eight years after giving birth to their first son, Gina became pregnant again, and their second son was born in 2008. At first, they attended Mass in the cry room with their boys and then went home. They recognized familiar faces, but never socialized. When their youngest turned two, Gina told Roger that she wanted to serve in the church like she used to when she was growing up in the Philippines. She chose the Maintenance Ministry so that Roger could watch their boys while she served.
Each year, after every Ministry Fair, Gina would ask Roger what ministry he was going to join. Finally, one year, Roger said, “If I’m going to join, I’ll be a Eucharistic Minister.” Gina told him, “Okay! That’s the Holy Spirit that told you!” And back they went so that Roger could sign up.
Years passed, and Roger and Gina became more active in the church. 2015 was a monumental year for the Basa’s. Even with a sixteen year old and a seven year old, Gina joined the choir and continued with Maintenance Ministry, and Roger continued with Eucharistic Ministry and got involved in presenting segments of the purpose Driven CLASSes. They also planned a trip to the Holy Land with the church—a life-changing experience for both of them.
After all of the hardships with their autistic son, life is no longer difficult.
After all of the hardships with their autistic son, life is no longer difficult. They bring him to Mass and are able to participate in their ministries while their youngest attends CLOW (Children’s Liturgy of the Word). With the good Lord’s presence, and the helping hands of their faith family nearby, for those few moments alone, their son has continuous loving care. They’ve signed him up for SKIPS (Special Kids in Prayer & Sacrament) at Corpus Christi, which meets twice a month and will eventually enable special needs children to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist. One day, the Basa’s will be able to participate in the Eucharist together.
Roger and Gina now feel that their eldest son is their biggest asset. Roger says, “He brings a smile to people who really take the time, and he keeps us grounded.” And Gina shares, “He taught us not to take things for granted—to always be thankful.”
Corpus Christi has become their second home and their blessings are numerous—fate and faith at its finest.
Gina was a shy girl from the Philippines, while Roger was an American living in the U.S. Gina took a leap of faith and followed him. They had their struggles; they encountered heartbreaking hardships, but they’re happy now. Roger states, “The Lord is first. The Lord is first in everything we do.” Gina agrees. Corpus Christi has become their second home and their blessings are numerous—fate and faith at its finest.
Other Stories of Faith
Do you have a great story or do you know someone at Corpus Christi that has a wonderful story to tell and would be a perfect person for us to interview? Please contact Alyssa at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at: 949.297.8517 and she will be happy to talk with you about that too!