Tribute to my father #2

Thursday, October 9th, 1969.

 
I was six-years-old, in school learning my ABCs at Bethany
Christian School, Taipei, Taiwan.

 
I remember we heard sirens—many many sirens—so many that
my schoolmates and I took notice and said, “Someone’s house is
burning down!”

 
Sometime later in the day, my class was interrupted by a knock at
the classroom door. Someone asked that Jeff be excused for the
day. I got to go home early.

 
It was my house that had burned down.

 
I suppose—no, I’m sure—that this was a catastrophic loss for my
parents. It was, after all, my mother’s birthday. But for me, sixyear-
old Jeff, it was another adventure.

 
After all, what was I doing in Taipei, Taiwan, at six-years old?
I was born in California, just a short walk away from Disneyland.
My dad’s decision to take us to Formosa—an island as far away
from California and Disneyland as could be imagined—was like
taking us to Peter Pan’s Neverland.

 
But now it was October 9th, 1969. Our house and all our
belongings were gone.

 
Everything. I suppose I must have realized that my parents were in
shock. But for me it was an adventure. Peter Pan’s Formosa.
And this adventure—the burning down of our home and the loss
of all our belongings—took us the next summer to Hong Kong to
replace much-needed things.

 
Hong Kong, a half-century ago, was sort of like…well…IKEA.
But for me, Hong Kong was a giant toy store.

 
I remember quite well going to the Ocean Terminal and walking
past toy store windows. Corgi and Matchbox and Hot Wheels, toy
guns and toy soldiers and battery-operated robots—all the things a
six-year-old boy in those days could desire.

 
And we used the Star Ferry—there was no MTR back then—and
for me, little six-year-old Jeff, the Star Ferry was the same as Peter
Pan’s flight at Disneyland, a magical adventure.

 
Yesterday, my wife Julia and I went on the Star Ferry, and re-lived
the magical adventure I took as a six-year-old child 47 years ago
in 1970.

 
Today we meet in Hong Kong to mourn my father’s death and
celebrate his life.

 
And I, Jeff Stone, Don Stone’s son, want to tell you that he loved
Hong Kong.

 
For those of you who watched the live stream of his memorial
service in the USA, you might remember that I told you a secret
about my father—that he was a deeply shy man whose calling,
commitment, and conviction gave him the ability to overcome his
shyness.

 
Today, in his second memorial service, I am telling you another
secret: for all his Texas bluster, through all of his travels, having
lived in a dozen cities and dozens of apartments and houses, he
found his home here in Hong Kong. His real home. His chosen
home.

 
He might tell you that God chose it for him—but then again, God
chose Texas and Missouri and Florida and Oregon and California
and Taipei and Detroit and Waipahu and Berlin for him, too.
This second secret is that my father, already over sixty and with
over four decades of ministry behind him, along with my mother,
fell in love with this church, with this congregation, with the
people here.

 
With you.

 
God surely does not always call us to serve through sacrifice.
Sometimes God might send someone to a place where they can
say, “I belong here. These are my people. I love it here!”

 
For me, Hong Kong will always be a giant toy store—Peter Pan’s
Neverland. I love it here.

 
For my father, Hong Kong was a place he not only felt called to,
but where he truly wanted to be. He loved it here, and he loved
this church, and Hong Kong had become his home.

 
I am not a man of God. I am not a minister. It humbles me to stand
behind my father’s pulpit. But please allow me to say:

 
May God bless you.

 
My father truly enjoyed you, felt at home with you, loved you.

 
May peace be with you.

 
Amen.

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