Hannah L Stone

this is where I write the light

Center of Attention

I don’t like to be the center of attention.  (says I, as I start a blog)  Sometimes I think I do.  Sometimes I have daydreams of being a famous photographer, poet, author; a heavy hitter for some NGO and being on a talk show, or somehow achieving national acclaim; that would be pretty center of the stage attention.  But when it comes down to it, I don’t like it or really the idea of it.

Today in the shower I was thinking about life.  I tend to have really good thought processes in the shower.  It has something to do with the running water.  Anyway, I was thinking about life and how I’ve gotten from point A to point B.

Do you ever trace things back to their point of origin?  Like rabbit trails in a conversation.  One that started out discussing Genghis Khan and ended up talking about Skittles.  Do you ever try to trace it backwards and find the bridges that got you from one idea to the next to the next to the next?  I do and I like to think about that in my life a lot too.

I can trace a lot back to Fiji.

I’ve never been to Fiji.  That’s sort of the point.

It goes something like this.

Imagine long stretches of cold, gray, rainy Portland winter days.  (For those of you currently in Portland you might not have to imagine very hard!).  Sometimes in the midst of those stretches I’d say THAT’S IT I’M GOING TO FIJI. Or if life and work and school got to be too much of a slug fest I’d say, THAT’S IT I’M GOING TO FIJI. It became my catch all, my version of getting out of Dodge.  My phrase.  It became a thing in my family, a joke.  Oh, there goes Hannah again talking about going to Fiji.

And then one day from down the hall in the computer room I hear my mom say, “Hannah, you have to come look at this.”  An email about volunteer opportunities with Habitat for Humanity (an organization I had volunteered with in the past and my parents donated to).  My first glance at the email I catch the words Global Village and Fiji.  A more detailed look at the description of the trip piques my interest further.  Then I see the dates.  Rats; can’t work.  Another trip highlighted in that email a Global Village trip to New Zealand.  Looks amazing.  Dates would work.  A link with an email address for more information.  Click.  Type.  Send.  A few days later a phone conversation with Brian, the guy leading the trip.  A few months later I’m in New Zealand.

That was the spring of 2004 so I’ll pick up the pace.

The following year Brian was leading a Global Village trip to Madagascar.  I got an email from him telling me he put me down on the team roster.  Excellent!!  I’m going to Madagascar!  My first nibble of Africa!  2006 Brian is leading a team to Zambia, same thing, he tells me I’m on the team.  Excellent, main land Africa!  I’m more than just a little excited!  I had loved Madagascar.  Was looking forward to Zambia.  I was longing for more of Africa, longer than 2 week stretches at a time.  Where I could go, live, be, experience, serve God.

Internet.  Search.  Find.  Africa Inland Mission.

The rest of 2005/2006 was a process of applying, interviewing, being accepted, raising support, packing for a year, hugs, goodbyes, tears, long flights.  Nairobi, Kenya.  New cell phone, very quick language classes, meeting my roommate Jo, a very long and bumpy drive.  Eldoret.  We’d be here for a very, very long time if were to type out what 2007 was like, what it meant to me, what it did to me.  Maybe we’ll take some flash backs in time later on.

The equation is … Portland is rainy and sometimes dreary and I wanted warmth and sun so I’d say THAT’S IT I’M GOING TO FIJI + an email about a trip to Fiji that didn’t work, but New Zealand did + meeting Brian and getting to be a groupie on his next 2 trips + being bitten by the Africa bug = me going with Africa Inland Mission to live in Eldoret, Kenya for a year.

God works in funny ways huh?

Sometimes God works in painful ways.  But I’m learning that maybe the pain is actually somehow protection, provision.

2008 I was home from Kenya.  Living in my parents basement.  Feeling like life was going backwards, not forwards.  Feeling like the astronauts do when they reenter the atmosphere and there is that spooky radio silence as they transition from outer space back to earth.

I came home from work one evening and as soon as I opened the door there were my mom and dad sitting on the stairs (very very strange).  The long and short of this part is that in a very horrible, unprofessional and unethical way the school my dad was superintendent for fired him and some other teachers quit in protest and later they terminated some other staff, in my thinking, for no reason, no grounds.  What they did and how they did it was horrible and ugly and ripped that school apart; caused a lot of damage and pain to families.

This equation is … the horribleness of my dad being fired and needing to look for a job + him applying to a school in Richland, WA + my mom telling me to move with them + me seriously not waning to move to eastern WA + discovering a position was open at Habitat for Humanity in Richland WA = Hannah moving to Richalnd.

The rest of the story is sentimental and violins should play in the background.  I moved, I met David, I fell in love, we got married, we have a beautiful son.  My heart is filled with happy.

So in the shower today (been a long time to get back to that point huh?  But I needed to have you understand and it took a little explaining) I have the thought …

Was this all for me?  Me, who doesn’t like to be the center of attention.  Was this all for me?  Was all that pain of my dad loosing his job and everything that happened, did God do that all for me?  Was the pain the only way?  Was it better than what could have been, what could have happened?

I don’t know.  Could there have been another way to get from point A to point B?  I don’t know.

I do know that God redeems.  The pain, the ugly nature of what happened to my dad; it was redeemed and new life sprang form it.  That is the calling card of God.

I do know that to God, I’m sort of a big deal.  Sort of the center of His attention (as are you).

Matthew 18:12-14
What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

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