The following is a blog post by Portia Lange, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Belly Motions.

It was June 2003, I was 23 years old and had just graduated from the University of Florida.  I was on top of the world, felt invincible and determined to accomplish BIG goals in my life…

Goal#1: Find my Maltese Father.  

Three days after graduation a group of college friends and I traveled internationally to Greece.  It was my first time out of the country. We spent an entire week exploring the islands, partying and tanning.  But I had bigger plans than just a celebration get-away.  On the last day of the trip I waved goodbye to my friends and said, “See you back in Gainesville, I’m going to find my father.”  I then boarded a plane for Malta, a tiny island located just below Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gozo, Malta (Europe)

Two hours later the pilot announced “prepare for landing.”  I glanced out the window in great anticipation to see the country.  After miles of crisp blue sea a beautiful rocky land suddenly appeared.  I gasped.  The feeling was surreal, similar to a mother seeing her first born child. At this moment I realized this was Malta; this was my country, these were my people.  It was also at this moment I thought, “Holy @#$*, what the #@$* have I done?!”

While departing the airport I met Robin and Earl Pinkston, American missionaries originally from Kentucky and Tennessee.  These wonderful, kind-hearted and trusting folks took me in as I had no where to stay.  That night I accompanied them to their prayer group and they introduced me to Bridget, a beautiful Maltese girl my age.  I recall her stunning features – black hair, piercing eyes and flawless skin.  It was this spirited soul that would do something extraordinary to help me find my father…

“Tista Tkun Int!” the Maltese television show that reunited me and my father.

The next morning I stood curbside waiting for Bridget.  With the language barrier I still did not fully understand where we were going but I had promised the night before to meet her.  She soon appeared and we drove off to the unknown.  Shortly thereafter, we arrived at a warehouse surrounded by a large group of people.  Bridget leaped out of the car, cut the entire line and with all her might fiercely banged on the door.  Instantly, a big security officer peered out and Bridget frantically spoke in Maltese.  She was fighting for something big; little did I know she was fighting for me Moments later I was rushed inside to find myself in a full blown production studio.

Article about my story in a Maltese newspaper.

Within minutes I was greeted by Colin, “Hello Portia, I’m Colin the producer.  This is “Tista’ Tkun Int!” the largest talk show in Malta.  Bridget tells me you’re from America and looking for your Maltese father.  We can help.”  I was elated.  I briefly explained my story and within 20 minutes I was on live national television in front of thousands of people with a microphone.  I nervously started with, “My name is Portia. I am from the United States and I am looking for my father.”  My story was an instant hit making headlines everywhere.

After the show  I was thanked by Colin and the show hosts.  “If enough tips from viewers come in there is a good chance we will locate your father.  If we do, expect a call from us tomorrow.”

Comino Island, Malta

The next 24 hours were daunting.  I anxiously waited by the phone at the Pinkstons’s home.  “Would they find him?”  Finally, the phone rang.  It was Colin.  I heard the words, “Portia we found your father.  You will meet him this Sunday on live T.V.”  It took me several seconds to process the news.  I felt a surge of emotions from relief to excitement to worry.  What would I say?  What would he think of me? What would he look like?

I had five days to explore the rocky island and ultimately, my heritage before meeting my father.  I took a ferry to Gozo the tiny island next to Malta where I was told my dad was raised.  It was such a surreal feeling…these were my people yet I had never met a Maltese person in my life.  I was in awe.

This was also the time the movie Troy was being filmed in Gozo. A huge Brad Pitt fan I recall walking the entire island in hopes of seeing him.  It was my fantasy that he would notice I was American and hang out with me all day…hey, a girl can dream…I never did get to meet him but I recognize several scenes in the movie.

Me and my dad, Gozo, 2008.

Show day arrived.  I was sweating bullets…literally.  “What will I say first?  Will I cry?  How will it feel to meet my dad in front of so many thousands of people?”

And there he was, fifty percent of my flesh and blood.  As I looked into my father’s eyes I saw my very own eyes (and eyebrows…jeez, now I know where I get them from!).  My first words? “Dad, you’re really short!”  We hit it off immediately and the rest is history.

Today, I have an amazing relationship with my father, Coronato Muscat.  Several years ago he came to Miami and stayed with me for six months.  We had a blast together.  I took him to my Belly Dance shows and photo shoots (he was an awesome personal assistant!), we saw Aerosmith in concert, we started a garden together, you name it we did it!  He would cook, clean and one day I came home and he had painted the entire exterior of my house!  Dad’s are just AWESOME!

And that’s not all!  I also learned I had a HUGE Maltese family including a half sister and over 30 aunts, uncles and cousins!  I love them all very much and am so happy they are in my life!

The 2013 year marks 10 years since I met my Maltese family. I will be traveling this June to celebrate with them…and to introduce my fiance, Arturo!

And that’s how a young college girl made a dream come true!

Me and my dad being silly.                   We are a “pea in a pod”

Lesson: With courage comes results. Take initiative, even if it means flying to a foreign country to find your dad!


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