It Is Written That I Will See Him
As told by Rosalía Phillips
“You’ll be a big success! You’ve got the talent to make it!” Sitting at his piano, our director called those words out to me seconds before the stage curtain went up. The four other members of the ensemble signaled a welcome. Attired in my red, sequined dress, I was the newest vocalist in the group. Nervousness overwhelmed me. Here at one of the most important theaters in Mexico City, I was making my debut, launching a career in show business! It was March 1976, and I was a month shy of turning 18.
MY FATHER had died three years earlier, and memories of him still filled my heart and mind. The public remembered him well too. He had been loved and admired as one of the top comic actors in the country, having appeared in more than 120 films during what is often called the golden era of Mexican cinema. His name, Germán Valdés, “Tin-Tán,” was displayed on theater marquees all over Central and South America and in Spanish-speaking areas of the United States and Europe. Even today, more than 30 years after his death, his films are still shown repeatedly on television.
Ever since I was a little girl, my house had been a gathering place for celebrities. My mother and her sisters formed a singing trio called Las Hermanitas Julián (The Julián Sisters). Her brother Julio Julián was a renowned opera tenor in Europe, while his Spanish wife, Conchita Domínguez, sang soprano. Moreover, my father’s brothers, Manuel “Loco” (the crazy one) Valdés and Ramón Valdés, better known as Don Ramón, were famous television comedians.
Movie lots, revue theaters, and recording studios were familiar places to my brother, Carlos, and me because my father would frequently take us with him to work and on working tours; that is how he kept the family united. What a contrast there was between that superficial environment and our home, where real harmony and love prevailed! I remember my father as a very affectionate man, full of vitality and love of life. He was extremely generous, even to a fault at times. He taught me that happiness depends not on possessing but on giving.
A Devastating Change
Toward the end of 1971, my mother broke the awful news to my brother and me that our father had been diagnosed with an incurable disease. For a year and a half, I watched him suffer as he struggled under the influence of powerful medication.
I still remember the day I saw the ambulance come to our house to take him to the hospital. I knew that he would never return. I can hardly describe my pain. I decided that since he was suffering, I should suffer too. I extinguished a cigarette against the palm of my hand and cried inconsolably. On June 29, 1973, my father passed away. I began to ask myself: ‘Why did someone so good, who gave so much joy, have to leave us? Where is he now? Can he hear me if I speak to him? What meaning does my life have now without him?’
A Career Without Purpose
After taking some time to recover emotionally, I started to study interior decorating. I had a rebellious streak, though, and left school. My mother and I decided to socialize more. We attended elegant parties in the entertainment world. Often, the host would conclude by saying, “Rosalía, now please sing one of your songs for us.” They liked my voice and the feeling I put into my music, saying that I had inherited my parents’ talent.
At one of those parties, the composer and director of Arturo Castro and His Castros 76 heard me sing and invited me to join his group. At first, I didn’t like the idea. Even though I loved music and had played guitar and composed since I was 14, I did not want to become a professional performer. But my mother urged me, and our family had a financial position to maintain, so I finally accepted. That led to my debut described earlier.
I enjoyed steady work from the beginning of my career. Our group toured Mexico, performing two shows a night. We worked in Guatemala, Venezuela, New York, and Las Vegas. I stayed with the troupe for two years. Then I was offered a chance to make movies. I was given two supporting roles in films and one starring role, for which I earned two important awards.
One day I received a call from the foremost television company in the country. They offered me an exclusive contract under their “star system” and the leading role in a soap opera to be named after me. I would be propelled to the top of the entertainment world. I would receive an excellent salary, even if I did not work regularly. Feeling that I did not deserve all that and fearing the loss of freedom, I turned down the contract. I did accept work on the soap opera, but only so that I could continue studying theater at the university. Still, I was not happy. It troubled me to watch actors strive for years to land a leading role, while I was heading the cast—mainly because I was Tin-Tán’s daughter.
Then came the recordings. The first included the sound track for the soap opera, the lyrics and music of which I composed. Later I recorded at a famous studio in London. I did more recordings, movies, and soap operas. The front pages of entertainment sections in newspapers began to feature articles about me, so you might say that I had reached the peak of success. Still, something was missing. I observed how vain and competitive performers were, and there was rampant immorality and insincerity among them. I lost confidence in people.
Then in the autumn of 1980, I saw my Uncle Julio at a family gathering. He had decided to leave the opera, and I listened to him speak about a paradise promised by God. Uncle Julio said that injustice and sorrow would disappear from the earth and love would rule. He also said that the name of the true God is Jehovah. What appealed to me most was hearing that in the Paradise our dead loved ones would be resurrected. The prospect of seeing my father again delighted me. I had never stopped missing him and longing for his support and affection. How wonderful it would be to have him back again! But deep down inside it seemed impossible to me. Uncle Julio gave me a Bible and invited my mother and me to attend a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses that was to take place in a few weeks. We told him that we might go.
I Decide to Change My Life
One night, I was smoking in bed while reading the Bible that my uncle had given me. What I read in the book of Proverbs led me to conclude that light, understanding, and life originated with God, while darkness, confusion, and death came from an opposite source. That same night, I put out the last cigarette that I would ever smoke and waited for my mother to arrive. Crying, I asked her to support me in some big decisions. Next, I went to the theater where I had been rehearsing the role of Cordelia in Shakespeare’s King Lear. I quit the play and broke up with my boyfriend, one of the lead actors.
However, I had not yet learned to serve God, so I had nothing to lean on. I fell into a deep depression. I prayed that God would help me to feel that I could truly belong to something just for being myself, without regard to inherited talent or a well-known name. I cut myself off from all my regular associates and activities.
The Road to Real Success
In the midst of my confusion, I remembered my uncle’s invitation to attend the convention. I called him, and he took me to the stadium. What I saw there touched me. I saw orderly people who did not use foul language or smoke and did not try to impress anyone. What I heard from the Bible reminded me of what I had read in the little book entitled Is the Bible Really the Word of God?* which I found in my house shortly after my father’s death.
About this time I was offered another starring role in a soap opera. I liked the role, as it seemed to uphold the godly values I had learned about at the convention. In view of that, I accepted the part. On the other hand, this thought from the Bible kept coming to mind: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For . . . what sharing does light have with darkness?”—2 Corinthians 6:14.
A desire to please God was growing within me. I wanted to attend a meeting at the Kingdom Hall with my uncle and aunt. Their congregation was an hour from my house, but I went the next three Sundays. My uncle decided to take me to a congregation in my area. We arrived as the meeting was ending, and there I met Isabel, a young woman my age. She was unpretentious and kind. When my uncle introduced me to her as Rosalía Valdés, she did not pay the least bit of attention to my name. That pleased me very much. She offered to study the Bible with me in my own home.
We started to study using the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.* Isabel gladly adapted to my schedule. Sometimes she had to wait until very late at night, when I would finish filming the soap opera. How grateful I was that here was someone interested in me simply because I wanted to learn Bible truths! She was a genuine, honest, and refined person, qualities that I had thought could be acquired only by studying philosophy and art. We arranged to study for long periods, sometimes several times a week.
In the beginning it was difficult for me to rid myself of my own wrong ideas, but gradually the truths of the Bible replaced them. I recall how I was heartened by God’s promise: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:10, 11) Then, too, the hope of seeing my father again in Paradise was starting to become real to me. I often thought of Jesus’ words: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life.”—John 5:28, 29.
I finished my work on the soap opera, and other offers came in immediately. Though the projects were likely to make me more famous, participating in them would have implied that I endorsed immorality, idolatry, and other false ideas. I had learned that Satan was real and that he does not want us to serve Jehovah. So I refused the offers and began to attend all the meetings. Naturally, my mother and brother did not understand why I was giving up so many opportunities and so much money. At the same time, they could see a transformation in me. I was changing from an unhappy, dispirited person to one with some spark and joy. Finally, I had a purpose in life!
I felt the desire to share what I was learning with others and soon became a publisher of the beautiful message of God’s Kingdom. When I was preaching, it was sometimes hard to hold the householder’s attention; many would recognize me as an entertainer. On more than one occasion, my companion and I arrived at people’s doors while the soap opera in which I was appearing was being shown on their TV. The householders could not believe that I was standing at their doorstep!
On September 11, 1982, I was baptized in symbol of my dedication to Jehovah. My life now had real purpose, and a different kind of career lay ahead of me. Isabel’s zeal for the ministry motivated me. She served as a regular pioneer, as full-time ministers of Jehovah’s Witnesses are called. Soon I was accompanying her as she studied the Bible with others. Isabel became my best friend.
I had practically abandoned my work as a performer, so my mother and I had to be content with a lower standard of living. Meanwhile, I composed the music for my fourth record album, which included some songs about my new values and beliefs. I wrote a song about the firm hope I had of seeing my father again. I called the song “It Is Written—I Will See Him.” When I first sang it for my mother, she was deeply moved. She sensed my genuine conviction. I was thrilled when she expressed her desire to study the Bible. Two years later, she became a baptized servant of Jehovah. She remains active in the ministry to this day.
As time passed, it was becoming easier for me to turn down offers of work. And when faced with a trial or temptation, imagining the wonderful picture of my father together with us in a beautiful paradise would build my confidence and determination to keep serving Jehovah.
One day I was asked to form part of the cast for the Hispanic version of Sesame Street, a children’s program. I thought that I could not do it and told the producer that my Bible principles would not allow me to promote such things as holidays and birthdays. The producer replied that if I would accept the job, he would respect my beliefs and we could sign a contract detailing my position. I therefore accepted and filmed 200 episodes. That was the last job I took as an actress.
There was just one contract still pending with the record company; so I recorded ten of my compositions for it, including the song that I had composed about my father and the resurrection. I had the opportunity to sing that song on television and at personal appearances, during which I always mentioned my beliefs. However, the record company began to exert pressure on me to present a more sensuous image. I handed in my resignation.
Blessings in God’s Service
In December 1983, Isabel and I toured the facilities of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Brooklyn, New York. There I met the man who would later become my husband, Russell Phillips. We wrote to each other for almost two years. How well I remember the day I commenced my regular pioneer service—all the way from New York, Russell sent me roses!
For a year I pioneered with Isabel. Then she was invited to serve at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Mexico. Her conversations about her new assignment kindled in me the desire to expand my ministry and, Jehovah willing, to serve at Bethel too.
Russell has been another blessing in my life. Thanks to his love for Jehovah and His organization, I have learned to cherish full-time service. He loved Bethel, having served at Brooklyn Bethel for three years. After we married, we served together as regular pioneers in Colorado, U.S.A. Later, we were invited to be international construction workers on new branch facilities in other lands. How great our surprise when we learned that we were assigned to Mexico! In April 1990, we embraced the blessed privilege of becoming members of the Bethel family in Mexico. Russell’s example encouraged me greatly. I admired the self-sacrificing spirit that motivated him to leave his home country and family to advance the Kingdom interests here in Mexico.
Russell and I greatly enjoyed our privilege of service at the Mexico branch. But things suddenly changed when I became pregnant. The news took us by surprise. Nevertheless, we had always admired parents who raise their children in the way of the truth, and we gratefully accepted this as a new assignment. In October 1993, Evan was born, and Gianna two and a half years later. Even though raising children requires continuous effort, we feel rewarded each time that our 11-year-old and our 8-year-old express their own faith as they engage in the ministry.
Russell now serves on a Kingdom Hall Regional Building Committee, and I recently resumed the full-time ministry as a pioneer. During the past 20 years, I have been able to help 12 family members, as well as 8 others, to learn Bible truth and come to serve Jehovah.
When my children ask me, “Mommy, was it hard for you to leave your life in show business?” I quote the words of the apostle Paul: “I do indeed . . . consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8) How grateful I am that Jehovah rescued me from a vain and purposeless life and allowed me to become part of his wonderful people! I never tire of thanking him for countless blessings provided through his Son, Jesus Christ. Often I joyfully sing the song that I wrote about my father. I am confident that I will see him again.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses but now out of print.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses but now out of print.
[Picture on page 10]
With my parents and my brother when I was one year old
[Picture on page 12, 13]
Singing with Arturo Castro and His Castros 76
[Picture on page 14]
With my family today
[Picture Credit Line on page 10]