25 Years Ago, My Hair Was Darker, My Waist Was Thinner, and I Could Still Dunk a Basketball

Part Four of "Two Years Ago Our World Changed"

S.E. Fairbanks
7 min readMay 18, 2022

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash

Part One of our journey began with an unexpected departure from Indonesia, where we had lived and worked for 15 years. In Part Two, we face the uncertainty of not knowing when, or if, we would be able to return to this place we had called home for so long. In Part Three, we returned to Indonesia to pack up our home after two years and prepare for a new life back in the States.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

A phone call from Ona

I hadn't been home long when the phone rang.

I'm so tired… I'm just gonna let it ring.

Teaching seventh-grade mathematics was a special kind of blessing interwoven throughout a blanket of challenges. With his slicked-back hair, Rudy was already making his best impression of a tough guy. When he got angry at me, he pulled up a chair and stood on it in an attempt to look me in the eye and intimidate me. Juan was friendly and engaging and could talk about nothing other than baseball. Frank was a gentle giant who took every opportunity to come alongside me as I walked —" How's it goin', Mr. Fairbanks?" Gene showed up at my house one Saturday afternoon, looking for someone to pay him some attention. And then there was quiet, timid, and soft-spoken Sheenah, who struggled, worked harder than anyone, and apologized when she didn't understand something I was trying to teach.

It's been a long week and I'm tired…whoever is calling will surely call back.

I was staying in the basement of the Nazarene parsonage in Nyssa, Oregon. Mick was the church pastor, and his wife, Shirley, was one of my colleagues at the middle school. When my roommate situation with another first-year teacher was not going as well as hoped, they opened their basement to me.

The two of them were exactly what my younger self needed at that time in my life — Mick, with his quiet, gentle…

S.E. Fairbanks

If I must err, let it be in the direction of love. I am a man in process of being perfected in love and growing in Christlikenes. DoEverythingInLove.com