BP Is Lost

Tuesday evening around 5:00 pm I was having an ordinary day, standing in the kitchen preparing dinner for our meal that night.  I had just finished holding raw chicken and was in the process of washing my hands when the phone rang and my sister CHL called from Texas.  MSBJ answered the phone and asked Aunt CHL to hold on a minute while I washed my hands.  Suddenly MSBJ was handing the phone over to me saying, “She said she needs to talk with you right now it is an emergency.”

I quickly grabbed the phone from MSBJ and CHL began to tell me in a crying voice that BP was lost. They were in St. Augustine and BP was lost. Mom had called her and asked her to gather us all in and have a family prayer.

I hung up the phone and called everyone up to the living room.  I was immediately crying and very upset as I knew that if mom had called CHL things were very bad and BP had been lost for some time.  Everyone seemed to know the emergency of the situation and all rushed and knelt in prayer, except CEB who was watching Netflix on my iPad.  I asked MSB if he would lead us in prayer.  He did.  I then offered up a prayer where I felt like I was presenting reasons why BP needed to be back with his family as we all loved him so much.  After I prayed I asked if anyone else would like to pray.  One of the boys, I think it was JDB or TRB, asked if they could pray privately in their room.  I said yes, and everyone scattered.  I stayed where I was and wondered what I should do.  I decided that if he wasn’t found soon I was going to drive down to St. Augustine and look for him myself.  Then a thought came into my mind where recalled the scripture of Enos who wrestled with the Lord all night until he received promised blessings.  I resolved that I was going to stay right where I was and pray all night long until I got what I wanted.

I began to pray, all the while seeing the image of BP, 9 years old, in my head.  His short, small stature with blond hair, glasses, and his often loud and annoying yells.  I knew how much I loved him, as though he were my own, I thought of how he is my JDB’s dearest friend, and best buds with all my guys.  I thought of my plan to move back to FL with the intention of living near them and being close.  I longed for BP, and his central role in the plan and happiness of my family’s life.  I reminded the Lord He had already required the loss, through death, of my sister’s oldest son and that this was too much to be born.  As I bargained, plead, begged, implored, reasoned and importuned the Lord in BP’s behalf my mind’s eye was filled with a vision of silken cords1 of love that bound BP to me, to his parents, his siblings, cousins, grandparents, and how the bond we had formed with this sweet boy bound him to us and we were spiritually fighting for BP.  We were drawing him back to us with these bonds of love and we would not lose him.  That he would come back to us.

The phone rang again.  It was CHL calling for the second time.  He was found!  The police had found him and he was being returned to his parents right now!  I managed to sob back over the phone to her, “Oh Chirsten, how thankful I am to love someone so much that it would hurt this bad for something wrong to happen.” She hung up.  What joy!!!!  What thankfulness filled my heart!

We gathered together once more for a prayer of gratitude, love, thankfulness and pure joy.  “O God, thank you!”

All of this drama happened over the course of 9 minutes.  9 short minutes and it was both terrible and wonderful.  I called my mom the next day and asked her what had happened.  This is the narrative that mom related to me.

“We had been enjoying a day at the fort and then old St. Augustine Street with mom and dad, the P family, Missy Novak, and Logan and Suzie.  We had stopped at a shop and everyone had gotten a milkshake.  We walked out of the store and up the street a short distance and stopped so NHP could a head count.  She realized BP wasn’t with them, but no one thought it was a big deal as he had only been out of sight a short time.  They looked around them and BP was nowhere to be seen.  10 minutes had past.  They decided to split up and spread out the search.  Mom stayed with the P children while NHP and dad went down the street in one direction (a person for each side of the street) while Logan and Suzie went the opposite way.  Missy went back to the milkshake shop.  NHP and dad peeked into every shop as they made their way down the street when suddenly she realized they were at the end of the street and still no BP.  She was very upset now and crying.  She called mom on the phone and asked if he was with her?  No.  She called Logan and Suzie at the other end of the street and no, no BP.  25 minutes have now past.  My mom hung up and called 911 and reported a missing child.  Mom said within moments of the call she saw several (at least 12) bicycle cops descend upon St. Augustine street and begin the search.  NHP, at her end of the street sat down where she was.  She said later she became physically incapable of movement.  She was at the tourist trolley station where the trolley’s loaded and emptied with tourists.  She pulled up a picture of BP she had just taken an hour before and asked if the trolley driver had her son?  He asked if he was lost and when he found out he was he had her text him the picture of BP.  He then texted the picture to all of the trolley drivers and reported a missing child.  Several of the tourist overheard and got the text message of BP and began looking as well.  Mom said at this point dad had walked back to where she was with the children and had gathered everyone together in the middle of the street and had a family prayer.  Everyone split into groups again and doubled their efforts to find BP.  Mom said she began to desperately run up and down calling little BP’s name, running into every shop and restroom.  45 minutes have now past.  Mom then called CHL and asked her to call me and for all of us to gather together and pray for BP.

Apparently, at some time after the final split off of search groups, my dad thought he would walk back to the parking garage, about 2 miles away, where they had parked, to search for BP.  Freddie, BP’s father who was not there when it happened but came back when NHP called, had been driving around looking on the roads for BP when he decided to park in the parking garage, and get out and look as he was unfamiliar with streets of St. Augustine.  At the entrance of the garage Freddie and my dad met.  As they met they saw a bicycle cop and they asked him if was searching for the missing child?  The cop responded yes, and asked if they were as well?  Yes, they said, we are the family.  “Well, we have found him, just now, he is here in the parking garage.”

Mom said that they immediately called NHP and the police escorted her to the garage and reunited her with her boy.  She ran to her boy, and he ran to his mom!  Oh how they cried and hugged each other’s neck!  NHP hugged the necks of the police there, there were 3, and cried on their shoulders her thank yous.

This is where it gets unclear, but from what BP told them this is what we understand.  He had walked with his family out of the milkshake shop and kept walking until he made it to the gates and the bridge which lead back to the old fort.  When he saw where he was he knew he was lost and realized his family was no where to be seen.  He remembered the lessons his mom taught and looked for a nice grandma or mother with children.  A family, parents and children (?), asked him if he was lost and he said yes.  They told him they would help him find his family.  They took him and left the street and walked with BP the 2 miles to the parking garage.  When they got to the entrance of the garage they left him there and disappeared.  He didn’t know what to do then so he stood there.  He remembered then that this was where they had parked and went up to the top floor and found the truck.  He climbed in the truck bed and waited for a long time.  He got lonely and scared after a long time and got out and began to walk back down toward the entrance of the garage when he was found by the police.

Mom finished by saying that as she gathered together the other 6 childern, with Missy, Logan and Suzie, and started to walk back to the parking garage to go see BP that they passed by several tourists who were looking for BP and she was happy to tell them he had been found.  She was very impressed by the prompt and kind attention of the police and overwhelming response of the tourists and workers there.”

We have all found it very odd, strange, and even suspicious of the family who “helped” BP by taking him away from where he was mostly likely to be found.  We have wondered if nefarious intentions were originally acted upon when they had a change of heart and left him at the parking garage.  We may never know the intentions of the family who helped BP, but we are thankful that he was returned safe in the end.  A few minutes just short of an hour is too long to be missing a child.

Here is my sister NHP’s words on what happened that day:

“Tuesday Freddie and I took the kids to St Augustine to spend the day with my mom and dad, my youngest brother and his sweet new wife. We visited the super cool fort and were walking the street checking out the shops when I noticed that BP wasn’t with us. Now usually, I don't panic when things happen until after the fact (like when I'm lying in bed and my brain won't shut off and I start to think about all the things that could've happened to make the given situation worse) and I didn't panic this time. At least not until I got all the way back to the end of the street and still couldn't find him. That’s when Freddie called (he had to run an errand for work and was just getting back) and asked where he should meet us. I immediately start to cry and tell him BP is lost and I can't find him. I lost it further when I turn around and see that my dad, who's searching with me, hasn't found him either. I call my mom—nope she hasn't found him. True panic sets in. Now I'm crying and people are noticing the lady walking down the street freaking out. My mom calls the police and I get the trolley ticket guy to notify the trolley drivers. Suddenly there are people all around me asking to see a picture so they can help look. It’s been about 20 minutes now since I had last seen him. I start to realize that the sun is going down and it’s getting colder and he doesn't have a jacket. No judging, this is FL after all. The bicycle police show up and send my picture to all the other cops. I stay where I am, because truly I was so upset at this point, I couldn't think, couldn't move except to look. At every person. Logan calls- no BP. More time passes. I pray and pray and pray. More people are asking to see his picture to help look. Finally the police officer rides up and tells me another officer has found a child he believes fits the description I've given and he forwards him my picture for confirmation. It’s him! Oh sweet relief! I sob even more! He's made his way all the way back to the parking garage by the visitor center. We head there (the officer and I) and the other officer calls to tell us that Freddie and my dad have gotten there first. Such relief and gratitude flood through me. When he sees me, he runs to me and I just sob and hug him and pray gratitude to my Father in Heaven for His tender mercies. I am emotionally spent so I sit on the bench and just cry tears of relief. My dad then tells me that he had gathered everyone in the middle of the street to pray as soon as he gets back to them from our initial search (while I'm talking to trolley guy), my mom called my sister, who then called my other sister and they prayed too. Prayer works. My boy was safe. Scared but safe. All in what felt like a long time but was, in reality, less than an hour. BP tells us that there was a large group of people helping him as well. In the crazy, mixed up world there are still so many good people. So I begin my new year filled with hope that America is still great. Goodness is not a thing of the past. God lives and hears our prayers. He loves us and He knows our need. BP is in my living room making loud, annoying noises right now and I am so, so glad to hear them! May God bless those families whose stories end much more tragic than mine.”

 

Notes

1.“And there are also secret combinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the devil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever.” (2 Nephi 26:22)

My understanding opened up that just as the devil uses cords to bind us, we also use cords to bind us.  It seems that for every good thing we get from Christ that satan has his counter parts.  We can be bound for righteousness as well as wickedness.