Dawna Austin
As I lay here in bed, all I can say is WOW.. what  a glorious day!   I must admit, I was a bit skeptical this morning when I looked at the weather outside my window.  It looked mighty gray and stormy -- and after changing locations to peer out a different window (one without smudges and handprints from tiny hands), it still looked like we were in for some unpleasant weather!    We had booked today to go into Vancouver with some friends to cycle around Stanley Park for the day and end the time together with dinner downtown.

I was very excited!  Now that I have the energy to cycle, I couldn't wait to spent a day doing what I used to love to do as a teen!  But first, we had swim lessons for the kids .. and as we walked to the outdoor pool, it started to downpour rain, soaking us by the time we walked the 3 blocks to the pool.  Hmm... not very promising for a day full of cycling outdoors.   Once we were through shivering and hovering under the eaves of the pool building for the duration of the lessons, we rushed back home and packed rain gear for our day outing.  We hugged and kissed our kids and took off on our adventure.

By the time we got to Vancouver, the weather was MUCH better than at our house, so that was very encouraging.  I then changed in the truck from the jeans I was wearing back into shorts, and stuffed away all rain gear and sweaters.   What a GLORIOUS morning this was, cycling around the Sea Wall, and ending up at a beach, in the sunshine. We dismounted and just walked on the beach for a bit, looking at sea life and just enjoying the view of the ocean.  I, at this point, was still pinching myself that I was without kids and cycling with friends .. something I don't get to do often!

We decided to stop at the Ferguson Point Tea House for lunch .. only I decided to try more of an abrupt stop than the others.  We were crossing a road, and I attempted to lift the top of the bike up to jump the curb, but I misjudged how heavy Kirk's bike was, and didn't lift it high enough, causing my bike to stop and me to continue to fly forward .. only my leg somehow got caught in the bike so we tumbled together.  It must have looked pretty interesting, as I had some people rush to my aid and help me up. I actually couldn't get up because my leg was caught in the frame of the bike.  The interesting part is, it didn't even hurt!  I really do believe that I had lots of angels shielding my fall .. the only thing I thought was .. "oh crap.. I guess I'm going down now" .. and then it was.. but it was more like falling down if you trip and then you get back up.  I only have a few light (and I mean REALLY light) scrapes on my leg above my knee no bleeding) and a slight nick on my pinky finger.  Strange considering how we (my bike and I) tumbled. Gotta love those angels!

Following my graceful entrance to the restaurant property, we had  a nummy little pizza and we were off once again to enjoy the back trails of Stanley Park.  The day sailed by, and I swear we blinked and it was nearing 5pm .. where had the day gone?  Didn't we just start? I didn't want it to end!

We drove over to the restaurant where we were going to have dinner, the Stone Grill (I think it is called) .. and decided that since we had 40 minutes left before the restaurant opened at 5.. that we would take the bikes and ride a bit around.   Only a few minutes later, we came across a young boy on a bike, maybe 10 years old, that was near tears and said that he couldn't find his mom.   We assured him that we would stay with him until we found his mom.. and went back to the location where he last saw her.  Long story short, my friend  and I  left the guys with Andrew to go look for his mom.   We cycled for quite a ways west (as Andrew said his mom was jogging west).  He gave us her description, black capris and a pink shirt.  We looked and looked and couldn't imagine any mom being that far away from where she would have spotted her son missing by her side.   Finally, I saw a lady jogging towards us on our bikes, but her shirt was more of a white than a pink (I guess I had incorrectly assumed it would be dark pink).  She had headphones on and was jogging like she really wasn't concerned about anything, so I really thought this couldn't be her, but thought I should at least ask.  I spoke quite loudly to get her attention (as she had headphones on), asking her if she had a son named Andrew.  She looked at me and responded, "Yes."  I was quite surprised as I was expecting to find a distraught mother looking for her son.   I then told her how Andrew was very upset and unable to find her.  Her response to us was two words, "stupid kid" .. to which she just started jogging away from us, continuing to head east.   I just sat there looking at my friend in amazement.  Did I just hear that correctly? Did she just say what I thought she just said?  I asked my friend, "Uh.. does she not want to know where he is.. does she not CARE where he is?"   I turned my bike around and raced back to catch up with her.   I asked her in I'm sure a frustrated tone of voice, "Do you not even want to know WHERE your son is?"  I'm not even sure she stopped jogging while she asked "where is he" .. so we told her where he was and I said "we will be cycling up to where he is.. and waiting with him until you come to get him.. we won't leave him by himself".

We rode up to the guys, and waited for his mom to join him.  As she jogged up to where we were .. she looked very frustrated, stopped beside her son and spoke quickly and harshly to him in Italian (he had told us he had just moved here from Italy two months ago).   His mother looked at us rolling her eyes as if again to infer "stupid kid" and then rapped her kid twice on the head with her knuckles  .. not hard .. but enough to give him her "message".   She then just started jogging again, and left our location, and the boy stood there with his bike, completely deflated, hurt, abandoned and tears welling up in his eyes. I wanted to rush over there and hug him .. He needed a hug from him mom.  But all he got was anger and rejection.  As he quickly got on his bike to follow his mom who was already a block away, I quickly touched his shoulder as he drove past, and I cannot remember what I said, but I recall that I had wanted to give him a gentle, caring touch on his shoulder, and let him know he was a brave, strong boy, and that it would all be okay.


The four of just just stood there, our hearts broken for this little boy who only wanted to be loved and hugged by his mom, and received the complete opposite.  By this time it was 5pm and time for our dinner reservation. It was so hard for us to get into the mode of dinner, our spirits were all so heavy from this experience, and I just wanted to run after him and give him a big hug.

It was difficult to get into dinner, but we finally managed to focus enough to enjoy our experience, it was incredible.  They brought our steak out on a  hot stone.. and  it basically cooked as we ate it.. what an experience.. see it here:  http://www.stonegrillvancouver.com/stonegrill/stonegrillsteak30.html

After our nummy dinner, we drove over to a place for gelato, and I couldn't decide so I had both Chocolate Fudge AND blackberry cheesecake.  Ya, stuff normally on my NO NO list.. but hey.. this was my day off!  Wow.. what a great day.. the weather cooperated.. the food was great, the tumbles entertaining, yet the meeting with Andrew sobering.

So, it is on my heart now to continually pray for this Andrew .. whenever I think of him, I am praying for his spirit to be lifted, for his mom to gain compassion for her son, and for God to reveal himself to that family and heal that relationship.   I came home and hugged my kids over and over and over, and after I told them my story of Andrew, my little 7 year old Daniel Andrew Austin had tears in his eyes. My Daniel has such compassion for others, I knew that if I told him the story of Andrew, he would join me in the mission to pray for this little lost boy .. that someday he might know the Lord and find love, security and more hugs than he can imagine!   Andrew, wherever you are out there.. know that you are cared for, and that we are praying for you!

Thank you Lord for the blessing of great friendships, the immense gift of being able to cycle and experience your beauty in nature,  the protection for my body when I attempted to audition for Cirque du Soleil, the amazing food we were able to experience, and even for placing us in the right place and at the right time to show Andrew some care and love.   What a full day, I thank you greatly for these amazing memories and for the loving hugs that surround me each and every day.