Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Heart Rejoices

I was going through old posts that I never published recently to delete or do a final edit for posting.  As I did this, I found this blog post.  Oh how the emotions come right back.  I wrote this the day that it happened but it was too emotional for me to post right away.  Over time, I forgot about this post but here it is.  My heart rejoices!!...again!

Today we went on a hike in the Superstition Mountains with all the kids.  Peter had Seth in a backpack and I had Ransom.  

It was a beautiful day and we were ready to get out in God's creation and enjoy the time together.  Little did we know what was in store for us this day.

We started out just like any other hiking trip making sure that...everyone had appropriate clothing and shoes, we were taking enough water and a snack to enjoy at the destination, etc..  We walked along taking pictures and enjoying just being together.  

After this shot, we had to snap the backpack straps on Seth, but I couldn't resist the picture first:)  Such a little adventurer!

Here are the older three kids at the entrance to the trail.

Here you can see the mountains in the background and the older boys just ahead of us on the trail. 

It was a LONG hike for our family of six kids ten and under.  When we arrived at the destination we were tired but enjoyed the hieroglyphics on the rocks.  The older boys seemed to be rejuvenated by reaching our destination and found energy to explore with Peter.  I sat with the little ones and gave them a snack:)

 The view was just amazing...aside from the Phoenix smog...haha.

I started back down with the little ones first and left Peter and some of the older ones to explore for a while longer (because it takes the little ones so long to walk the trails and we don't want to get caught out after the sun goes down).  Peter and those with him eventually caught up to us and we all marched down the trail together.  

After the climb and mountainside trail, I was feeling relaxed that the danger was behind us.  We continued taking pictures and counting heads.  

Then when the parking lot was within site, some of the kids walked on ahead of us on the trail...something they have done dozens of times before on other trails.  As Peter and I arrived at the parking lot we realized that Wesley was nowhere in site.  Panic immediately struck and we began questioning the older boys to see if he was with them.  He wasn't.  At that moment, I noticed a car pulling out of the parking lot and my heart just sank.  We live so close to the border and it is always in the back of my mind.  We both (or all of us really) began screaming his name and praying that Jesus would return our precious little boy.  I immediately dialed 911 and prayed desperately for a signal.  I hadn't been able to get one for most of the hike.  

I have lived in Phoenix for a decade now and Peter was raised in Arizona.  We know just how unforgiving the desert can be...the sun was going down...and I had seen that car pulling out of the parking lot.  Even though the older kids said that Wesley did not get in that car, I was not ruling out the possibility. 
Peter began running back up the trail yelling Wesley's name with one of our older boys and I continued to explain to the 911 operator just exactly where we were.  
A couple coming down the trail behind us joined in the search.  

Time really just stood still.  

I saw Peter and the man helping us look for Wesley disappear over a hill.  Some of the kids were huddled together waiting by Seth, who was still in the backpack that had been set down.  I was at the entrance of the parking lot where I had run to read the sign to the 911 operator.  If ever a moment of my life has lasted for an eternity...that was the moment.  I was looking back and forth from the hill which Peter just disappeared my sweet babies huddled together at the base of the the sign that I was the road that just carried away a vehicle.  Every worst case scenario was playing through my mind.  How could he be gone so fast.  I had just seen him...and yet...he was gone.  As I roboticly answered questions, I tried to stop my mind from going places that would not be helpful.

Finally, I saw Peter come back over the hill with a sobbing Wesley in his arms...almost as good as having him in my arms...almost.  The peace of that moment, I will never forget...the gratefulness...the smiles and tears of our other children. 

It seems that the poor little guy sat down to rest for a few seconds and then got up to follow the big boys but was confused and followed the wrong trail.  Realizing that he was on the wrong trail, he ventured off the trail to try to return to where we were.  

He was all alone.  

He was just a few feet away from us but because of the wind noise he never heard us calling his name and we never heard him crying.  The man that was helping us look heard a faint crying and led Peter down to find him.  

But now he was safe.  

There are no words to adequately describe the range of emotion that I felt as I saw Peter come over that hill with Wesley and I explained to the 911 operator that Wesley was found and alright.  

My heart rejoiced!  

I needed to just hold him in my arms to shew away the emotions that had consumed me over the last moments...which were an eternity...but actually only 10-15 minutes.

As we loaded the van, I realized that it had been a long time since we had talked to the kids about what to do if they are ever separated from us on a hike.  We had become a little too comfortable with hiking and our desert surroundings.  
We had that talk right then and there and then Peter and I began to discuss what we could have done to be better prepared for such an incident.  Here are the things that we do to prepare for a hike plus the changes that we are making.  If you take kids hiking or camping, please consider these precautions.

1. Buy a whistle for each child only to be used in an emergency and for each adult to signal kids to stop and wait.
2. No one goes ahead...out of sight of the adults on a can happen quickly if one little one needs to stop and those ahead don't know, so, put the slowest hiker in front and pace the group to that hiker...don't let older kids go ahead.
3. Review rules and what to do in different emergency situations before EVERY hike or camping trip.  Each trail and terrain is a little different.
4. Carry a first aid kit with you in a backpack along with more than enough water for the number of people in your group.
5. Make sure that everyone is dressed in bright colors.  In our case, Wesley was wearing a red sweatshirt that I put on him at the last minute and that aided in his rescue.
6. Take frequent water breaks and check that everyone is still with your group.
7. Have a cell phone (or two) in your group.
8. Know your hiking trail/area and where the nearest emergency facility is located.

For the rest of the evening I found myself just staring at Wesley...amazed at how quickly he was gone...amazed that while he was out of my sight, he was never out of the hands of our loving Heavenly Father.  My heart is still rejoicing that my lost little one is found...tucked into his bed sleeping peacefully!

After dinner and baths we gathered together in the family room and thanked Jesus for protecting Wesley and bringing him safely back to us.  Peter read the parable of the lost sheep and how the shepherd left the 99 and went to look for the 1.  What a picture my kids had in their heads as they remembered the way that Peter left everyone and ran to look for our little lost Wesley.  They experienced the rejoicing when he was found.  What a picture of how our Heavenly Father runs after us when we are lost in our sin.  How He wants so desperately to "find" us and how He rejoices when we choose to turn to Him. While I would never choose to go through that (or any tough situation really...haha) for the lesson, I am grateful that we can learn from every situation.

I don't think any of us will soon forget the events of this day.  But I think we may take a break from hiking for a while...maybe 20 years or so! 

I think I will go sit by his bedside for a while and watch him heart rejoices:)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What an unforgettable event for your family--esp mama :( I have had a few of these type of events and the fear and the what-if's that play in your mind in the weeks after are frightening. But, like you said, God in His mercy watches over our children and there is always something to be learned. Thanks for visiting my blog..looking forward to getting to know you.