yesterday started out as any other sunday would... theMr was on worship team, which meant i got to get the kids ready and to church by myself. so when he informed me he was taking them hiking afterwards, i was thrilled! an afternoon of peace and quiet in my own house? yes please! they left shortly after church, meeting a friend and his two boys there. i put esme down for her nap and basked in the quiet. until my phone rang a few hours later. it was a friend of ours, calling to check and make sure the kids were ok. what? they then explained that they had run into theMr in the woods and two of the children were missing. i think you can imagine the things happening in my mind at that moment. i tried repeatedly to call him and his friend, to no avail. the area they were in is a gorge and there is absolutely NO cell reception there. while i was trying to tell myself not to panic, i was really panicking. i called my friend (who's husband was with him) and she hadn't heard from them either. i called my mom, though she couldn't really do anything! i was stuck here with a sleeping toddler, no car and children possibly lost in the woods. at that point i didn't even know which children. before long, my friend called to tell me that her husband had just come home to drop off their boys and my two oldest children were still missing. i quickly asked her to come and pick esme and i up and take us there (about 20 mins away). i was debating whether to call 911 when theMr got enough reception to get a call through to me. he had enough time to say "going to lose this call, kids are missing, call 911". i'm so glad our other friends had already tipped me off as that call would have given me a heart attack. as it turns out, while they were hiking the two oldest kids were a ways ahead of theMr, his friend and the littler kids. they were frustrated at the slow progress. but when theMr came around a bend, the path was forked and they had no idea which way the kids went. suddenly they were gone. theMr was trying to look, while dragging the two little kids and having no clue which way they went. eventually his friend left to bring his kids home and get help. i called the police, got them on it and quickly threw stuff together for esme. on the way there (and before i lost cell reception too) i tried to call the pertinent people, although my mind was very scattered by that point. we pulled in the parking area right after the squad and the search and rescue people. they sent teams out but asked me to wait there in case the kids came back. by this point, word had spread quickly and friends and family were starting to arrive to search. when we were able to think clearly later, we realized that about 40 people (just that we know of) were either there or on their way to search. we are truly blessed to have such incredible people around us. after almost three hours of them being lost, they found their own way out. they were quite shaken up and scared, not to mention hungry and very tired. i finally broke down when i was able to put my arms around them. here's the amazing part, they found the way out themselves. there are maps along the trails, however they don't tell you where you are on the map. (so not very helpful!) so at each map point, they took a picture of the map with their camera and some landmark around it to make sure they were not going in circles. they also took large sticks and wrote Ari's name in each clearing so that if theMr went by, he would know they had been there!
they took those map pics and compared them with all of the pics they had taken before getting lost to track their way back. at one point, Za realized they were going the wrong direction by the location of the sun. i've always known they are smart kids, but i was so proud of them for thinking clearly and intelligently in a crisis. what amazing kids. on the way home, Za said (in the saddest voice) "can we just get popeyes for dinner, Mom?" uh yes. you can have whatever you want!
once everyone was bathed and prayed for and calmed enough to sleep, the reality of it all hit theMr and i. i battled my own mind last night with not allowing my imagination to get away from me with "what ifs". but God is so faithful. He is able to protect our children in ways that we will never be able to. i'm so thankful for that! i am so thankful that they are ok. i hope to never go through anything like that again!