August 02, 2010

Remembering Hannah

When we first arrived in Tarakan in the fall of 2001, we quickly became close friends with our MAF teammates, Dave and Linda Ringenberg.  Their daughter, Hannah, was Carter's age and they played together often.

A year later, Hannah had some strange symptoms, and a trip to Singapore confirmed everyone's worst fears for sweet Hannah - an inoperable brain tumor.  The Ringenbergs left for the U.S. where Hannah received treatment for several months before passing away in August of 2003.

After Hannah's death, Dave and Linda began serving at MAF's headquarters.  We have kept in touch over the years, and I have been so blessed and encouraged by how Dave and Linda have trusted God through the worst possible circumstances for a parent.  

A month ago, after being away for eight years, Dave and Linda along with their two boys C.J. and Ryan (ages 9 and 3) came back to Tarakan so Dave could help with some of the flying for six months.  It has been so fun to have them back, though there's been a bit of a weird role reversal - when we were the newbies here, they were the ones showing us around.  Now, it's the other way around, with us reintroducing them to life in Tarakan.  Some things haven't changed in their eight year absence (the heat, mosquitoes, etc.), but many things in Tarakan have changed for the better - wonderful things like a really nice swimming pool, higher-speed internet, and fresh butter.

So today, August 2, marks the seven-year anniversary of Hannah's passing.  Yesterday the Ringenbergs asked us to help them commemorate together.  

We shared memories of Hannah, the kids drew pictures for Hannah - mostly of butterflies.  During Hannah's illness, the butterfly became her symbol - to this day, I think of her every time I see one.

At sunset we released balloons and reflected on how Hannah is with the Lord in Heaven, and while we feel sad and miss her, we know we'll see her again one day.  

Our lives were forever touched by knowing Hannah.  She taught me some very important lessons - how I need to cherish my children and take the time to really enjoy them.  I also learned that they are in God's hands - no matter how much I may try to protect them from harm, what happens to them is ultimately up to the Lord.  And that is okay, because He is a good, loving God.  



Linda said...

I am so glad you were able to remember Hannah and celebrate her life with her family. Please give them our love and assure them of our prayers.


Anne said...

The last time we saw Hannah she was in Balikpapan on the way to Singapore. As waited for the Ringenbergs flight to land on an upper deck overlooking the runway. Just as their plane landed the wind picked up a handful of bougainvilla blossoms, pink and fragile, lifted them into flight and carried them on invisible wings far out of sight. In that moment I knew that He was taking Hannah to Himself. I think of her every time I see the wind carry beautiful things up and away, as though they belong to the source of all beauty.

I am thankful we had those hours in Balikpapan with Hannah and I could teach her one last song, tell her one last story. "Pretend you're a little lamb, Hannah, because you really are- Jesus' little lamb and He carries you in His arms."

Anne Stoothoff
former MAF Teacher, Tarakan

babysandner0809 said...

What a very inspiring post! Yes, all children are in God's hands. We never know how long we will have our children or how long they will have us, but we know that God loves all of us unconditionally. It's a challenge to cherish every moment, especially when you hoping that they do a certain milestone, and then you wonder, "Why didn't I take time to soak in the memories while she was crawling?" Cherish each day as a gift from God!

Linda Ringenberg said...

Oh, that's sweet, Natalie. We love you guys.


Karen said...

Thank you for sharing this. We remember praying for the Ringenberg family hearing about Hannah through you & Dave. God bless the Ringenbergs. --Karen in Hilo, Hawaii

Maylan said...

One thing I could never forget about Hanna's in life is when we just moved in to M3 when she met my niece for the first time. They were talking by the gate, Hannah was in English and my niece in Indonesian. When my niece said, "Where is your mom?" Hanna answered, "I have a doll." Then my niece said, "Can you come here? Will your mom allow it?" she answered, "Come over to my house, I'll show you my dolls."

I don't remember what else they were talking about, but it was a bit long conversation with all disconnected questions and answers.