A long time ago in a country far away our children got lost.
Our family was attending a staff conference, in a small retreat center outside of St. Petersburg, Russia bordered on one side by a primeval forest and on the other by the Baltic sea. The region was relatively remote although we had arrived using a nearby train and there were several villages scattered nearby.
Our group had gathered for dinner and was just getting settled down when I noticed that Andre was uncharacteristically quiet. He was also a somber shade of gray. Just as I leaned over to a ask him if he was “OK”, he jumped to his feet and mounted a nearby chair.
“Chris, Claire, and Emily are missing. They haven’t come back from hiking this afternoon. It’s getting dark. We need to organize search parties immediately and go find them before night falls.”An uneasy urgency, especially since they were all under age ten, set the tone as the men divided up. Emily’s father, Blake, and Andre went to the nearest police station to report the kids as being lost where police began to place phone calls to neighboring village police stations to inquire about the kids, the search parties went out, and the rest of us went to a nearby room upstairs to pray.
It’s almost funny, I thought, how I made my two children wear fanny belts containing copies of their passports, visas, some Russian money, and the address
of wherever we were staying just in case. They hated this but I could only hope that they had the right stuff with them and hadn’t removed it while playing.We had heard scary stories about the courageous attempt’s folks made in years past to wade thru the boggy, soggy, dense forest to find their way to freedom thru Finland’s border crossing nearby. Some people died there. It reminded me of how Longfellow’s mysterious “forest primeval” must have looked with “the murmuring pines and the hemlocks, bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight, stand like Druids of old.”
As we prayed it was as if God said to me “Put out your hand.” So, I did. He placed my children as jewels in my hand, and I covered them to protect them, but I immediately sensed God telling me that was not what He wanted me to do. He wanted me to open my hand instead and give them back to Him, so I slowly opened my hand and said, “They’re yours! Take them if that’s best.”
After what seemed like hours, He replied,” No, you keep them for a while’’ and He closed my hand over them once again. From that moment I knew they would be well. Shortly after that, we heard voices from first floor, affirming words: WE FOUND THEM! THEY’RE OK!
Our children had been a-drift in a Russian bog/forest surrounded by wild dogs that because of answered prayers didn’t attack.
Then by another miracle they came upon a road and followed it in the dark for about ten miles to a nearby village and its Russian police station where the phone rang while the kids were there.
The call was from the local police near our conference center who just happened to call the village station while our kids were present. The kids weren’t given a cordial welcome being told to “speak in Russian or not speak at all.” But, much to the surprise of everyone, they spoke in Russian.
So by God’s amazing grace, timely miracles, and answered prayers
the lost gems were found.
By Barbara LaTondresse
6 August 2019
photos courtesy of: