california dreamin; the car renter's nightmare.

as you may have read in my previous posts about our trip to california, it was basically a complete dream from the very start. we did so many fun things and just enjoyed every second of it. well, until our very last night there. but hold on, because i need to tell you all about everything before that!

we went to the santa monica pier and played at the beach. it was so much fun! we got to go on the ferris wheel on the pier and i just lovvvvvved that! i love ferris wheels. and we also got to just lounge on the beach. (we ended up getting pretty sunburnt, but it was SO relaxing while it was happening!)

then we got to meet up with one of parker's best friends from high school and her little family! it was so fun to see them! and it was fun to get to know them a little bit better as well! (we didn't get a picture! i forgot!! but i guess that means that we will just have to visit them again!)

after we met up with one of parker's good friends from high school and her little growing family, we went back to the parking garage to get in our car and go back to the place we were staying to end our last day in sunny california. when we got to level four, our car was NO WHERE in sight. 
insert panic and a prayer from both of us here.
we walked out of the parking structure and learned that it was parking structure number FIVE. because it was still early-ish, we started checking the other four parking structures, only to learn that there were ten of the exact same parking structures. 
insert more panic and more prayers here. 
we tried to remember where we parked. we cursed ourselves for our rookie mistakes, aka leaving our parking ticket in the car and not paying closer attention to where we were parked. we both hoped really hard that our rental car wasn't stolen. we went up and down each parking structure. trying to get the car's horn to honk by pushing the panic button and the lock button with no luck.  we were both fairly sunburned (parker more than i, but we were both pretty sunburned) and worn out from playing in the sun all day. and then at this point, after looking for about an hour and a half, our legs and backs were not feeling that awesome. 
now, before you think that we only walked up and down those parking structures, we also tried calling enterprise, our rental car company, to see if they could locate our car by GPS and give us a general vicinity of where our car was. turns out, they couldn't. it's against their policy-- UNLESS-- the car is in a homicide investigation. which ours was not. so, a little discouraged, we continued to walk and pray and try to remember anything more specific about where we parked.

there were moments where both of us wanted to just give up, but we couldn't because we had to find our car and return it to the car rental company the next morning and we needed to get back to the place that we were staying! so we kept on our way.

we asked the mall security if they could help us in any way. they helped us look in the mall parking structures by taking us around on their little cart. we were fairly certain our car wasn't in those parking lots because they looked a little different from the other eight structures and we didn't remember the little lights on the ceiling that showed where there were open spots. we went through the both structures and our car wasn't there.

the mall security told us they couldn't take us to any of the other parking structures because that was out of their area of security. discouraged, we went back on foot. we looked in one or two more structures before calling the santa monica police department.

when the policemen arrived, we hopped in the back of their car and told them our situation: we didn't have our parking ticket, we've been trying to remember what streets we came out on, we told them what buildings were familiar, and apologized for not paying closer attention. the policemen were so kind to us. they reassured us that we were not the first people that this had happened to and we surely wouldn't be the last. and then we narrowed down the ten parking structures to just four. we re-checked the mall structures because the policemen knew that there was a little machine that you just punch in your license plate and it tells you whether or not your car is in there. if only the mall security would have done that we could have saved at least 45 minutes of looking time. our car wasn't there. even though we knew that our car wasn't there, we felt a little bit of peace knowing that we could for sure knock out two structures.

we drove around two more parking structures, pressing the panic button like our life depended on it (because it kind of did...) and praying and hoping we would find our car.

as we drove into parking structure number six, parker pressed the panic button and we heard it. the sound of our car's horn. we were so excited. as were the cops! the officer drove us up to level four and there it was-- right where we left it! we thanked the cops profusely and then got into our car and said a prayer of gratitude.

on the drive home, parker and i discussed the last three and a half hours of our life. we talked about how God is sometimes slow to answer our prayers. how sometimes He lets us struggle and feel pain; not because He likes to watch us struggle or feel pain, but because He wants us to grow and be humble. we talked about how we had to rely on one another to be strong and not give up during those three hours-- it wasn't a long trial, but it felt long and as if it might not end. we talked about how grateful we were when we found our car. how grateful we felt when we knew that God had been listening to our prayers the whole time and how He had been guiding us through the whole process. we talked about how He expects us to use every single resource we can. God is good. He is so, so good and He listens to and answers prayers. we were so grateful that our prayers were answered in the way that we had hoped-- that we DID find our car and that we WERE able to make it back to where we were staying and that we COULD return our car safely and without any problems the next day.

our short nightmare turned into a peaceful tender mercy and testimony reassurance and reminder that God hears and answers prayers and that He is very aware of each and every one of us.

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