Monday, February 3, 2014

This is {Remembering} ~ A Special Guest for the Forget Me Not Blog Tour

This interview has been in the works since last fall. When my dear college friend Hannah Dawley told me about the blog she had started - This is {Remembering}, with a URL that includes the phrase "play no part in forgetting" - it seemed like the perfect plan to team up, featuring our combined theme of "remembering" for the Forget Me Not blog tour. Take a look at Hannah's blog's mission statement to see what I mean:

Remembering the ones the world has forgotten through sharing their stories and praying on their behalf

The characters I write about are fictional (although they do include pieces of my heart and experiences). But the children Hannah writes about on her blog, they're real, and their stories are real. Read on to learn more about my friend, her heart for orphans, and how you can "play no part in forgetting"... 

Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: So wonderful to feature you here, Hannah! Could you share a little about yourself and your heart for children around the world?

Hannah: Thank you so much, Amber, for featuring me on your blog! Yes, I am a twenty-two-year-old recent Corban University graduate who is trying to follow God every day. Growing up, I have been drawn to people, mostly children, needing compassion and mercy. I had the opportunity to intern at child abuse and neglect prevention programs while in college, and those experiences streamlined my heart for hurting and broken children.

I think what God has used the most to lead me to a place of having a heart for children around the world was my trip to Ukraine in June 2013. I went with Corban University and an organization called Little Lambs to an orphanage in western Ukraine that housed about 100 children, most of them physically or mentally disabled. God has given me compassion and love for those children who are not loved or precious to anyone in their life.

Amber: Your heart is an inspiration, dear friend. 

What prompted you to start a blog? How did you choose the title and theme?

Hannah: Well, the idea was sparked when my team leader challenged us to not let our hearts become hardened from the pain and hurt we saw in the children we met at the orphanage. He asked us to continue being advocates for them and to be a voice for them, because they have no voice. I decided the way I would be their advocate was to share their stories and pray for them.

A meaningful song for our team during our time in Ukraine was Kings and Queens by Audio Adrenaline. As I was journaling during my time at the orphanage, I wrote out a line of the song, “These are the ones the world has forgotten,” which I continued with, “and since I am not of the world, I can play no part in forgetting.” I felt it was my responsibility as a Christ follower and citizen of heaven to play no part in forgetting the orphans around the world and to help others do the same.



Amber: I love that you've not only determined not to forget, but that you've taken an active step in keeping that from happening. And that's a powerful song! It's wonderful the way you took that one line and built from it. 

Do you imagine yourself expanding your blog in the future? If so, how?

Hannah: This blog is mostly me processing through what I experienced when I was in the orphanage in Ukraine. I believe God puts on my heart the specific children I am to write about, and through reflecting on the child’s uniqueness I am able to write up part of their story and choose a scriptural blessing or theme for them. I would love to see the body of Christ become more aware of the plight of orphans and in response choose to pray for them. I could also see myself being open to letting other people who have been impacted by orphans they have met share their stories on the blog.

Amber: What are some ways we can join you in “playing no part in forgetting”?

Hannah: That’s a great question. There are several ideas that come to mind.

First is pray for your heart to be aligned with God’s heart concerning orphans. The Bible says a lot about God’s heart and his priority of caring for orphans. If our hearts are aligned with God’s, compassion and love come naturally, even in hard circumstances.

A powerful way is to pray for the Ukrainian children I have written about on the blog. Use the prayer guide and the Scripture to intercede for them. I also have a general prayer guide (at the end of the Pray page) focusing on orphans in other countries I have been to, as well as foster children in the United States. With the personal stories about real children in a real orphanage, share what you have learned with your friends and family. It’s easier for our hearts to break for specific people we know about instead of an overwhelming vague people group.

Consider financially supporting the organizations I have listed on the blog under External Resources or others you know about. Prayerfully consider if you would be willing to go and serve orphans through an organization on a short-term (or long-term) trip.

 Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: How true that knowing specific people and their stories brings all of this home for us. Thank you for these great suggestions!

How have you seen God showing you and the orphans you’ve worked with that He remembers you?

Hannah: Let me share part of a poem I wrote from the viewpoint of a precious child I bonded with in Ukraine. His name is Yura. It was extremely hard leaving him, and I was afraid he would feel abandoned or betrayed.

So I ask: How soon did you forget me when you got home?

Just so you know, I haven't forgotten you. Because you played with me and took pictures and videos of me and sang with me and hugged me when the big kids hurt me and were something that was guaranteed to be for two weeks.

And you introduced me to someone who you said won't leave me. Which I think is the best thing about what you did. Because I feel hope when I think about Him. And I've never felt hope before now.

I hope my Christian brothers and sisters whom I went to the orphanage with were used by God to speak this powerful message to the kids: We’re here because we love you and God loves you. We want to teach you about God because he is a perfect Father who knows you and is with you.

By sending this message to the children, I hope they see God as merciful and loving. I also hope they are able to see God as Someone who remembers them and cares for them even if everyone else in their life doesn’t.

The image of the Israelites crying out to God comes to mind. Maybe some of those children have been crying out to God, and just as God showed he heard the Israelites and remembered their cries, he can show the children he hears and remembers them as well.

For me, God has been very loving to me on my journey of processing through my experiences at the orphanage in Ukraine. I know I can depend on him to gently guide me through life. He knows me intimately and has a plan for my life.

 Please do not download or reproduce this photo.

Amber: Beautiful - and so very true.

Where might my readers be able to connect with you online?

Hannah: Feel free to comment on certain blog posts that spoke to your heart to get a conversation going. You can also e-mail me at hannah1318[at]gmail[dot]com to connect with me further.

Also, I’m hoping to put poems and other forms of art inspired by the stories of the children on my blog. If you have an artistic response to any of the children you met through the blog and want to share it, please send it to me so it can inspire other readers.

Amber: Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Hannah! The message of "playing no part in forgetting" and showing others that they're remembered is such an important one, and I'm so, so grateful for our friendship and for this glimpse of God's work in and through your life.

Readers, do you have any thoughts on how we can "play no part in forgetting"? Please do share a kind word for Hannah, and don't forget to visit her blog and "meet" these children on her heart!

You may have noticed the request not to download or reproduce Hannah's photos. To learn why, please check out Hannah's Privacy Policy. We appreciate your understanding and your help in protecting these children by not sharing their photos on other social media outlets or elsewhere.

2 comments:

hannah1318 said...

Amber, this is wonderful! Thanks so much for being an advocate with me!!

Amber Stokes said...

Hannah,

It's my privilege, dear friend! Thank you for letting me interview you and feature you here. :) I admire your heart for others, and I think this is the perfect post to share this week!

~Amber