Our Experience at Stanley Park

On Wednesday, July 29, of 2009 my wife Sherry and I accompanied our daughter and her family to Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC. We headed for the Railroad Train and Children's Farm first. Peter, age 2, thoroughly enjoyed the ride on the miniature train and wanted to go again. He also enjoyed seeing and petting all the farm animals. By this time it was getting quite hot so our next stop was the Water Park. Laura and Tim found a parking place a few hundred feet past the Park and we found one about one hundred feet beyond them, where there was woods on both sides of the road, with a narrow path on the side where we parked. We went back to help with the grandkids and then returned to our car to change clothes. On the way back to our car I noticed two Hispanic guys sauntering down the path ahead of us. They went just beyond where we were parked, one going into the woods a little where it looked like he was taking a pee, while the other squatted beside the path just beyond him. I thought they looked a bit suspicious but didn't give it a lot of thought since there was nothing valuable in the car that I felt they would be interested in. Sherry was concerned about me leaving my wallet in the side pouch in the car door, so I locked it in the glove compartment, while taking note that the guys were still hanging around. The one who had taken a pee was now leaning against a tree next to his friend. I thought Sherry had also noticed these guys and this was the cause of her concern, but she hadn't.

We changed, locked the car, and went to be with our kids at the Water Park. We had a great time, spending about an hour and a half there. By this time, it was about 2:30 p.m. and everyone was getting hungry, so we decided to head out. We went back to the kids' car and started to discuss where we should go to get some lunch. I decided to go down to our car and get the GPS to see where and how far it was to the Spaghetti Factory. I got into the car from the driver's side and got the GPS out without noticing anything unusual. I went back to the family at their car and we then decided that since the Spaghetti Factory was only about 6 blocks away from the park, we'd go there. I then went back to our car to change into dry clothes. This time I came up on the passenger side of the car. I noticed some glass on the path that I hadn't noticed before. I looked up at the car and was shocked to see the rear window wide open. I all of a sudden realized that it wasn't just open, but it was broken and that was where the glass had come from. I opened the door and looked in. I couldn't see anything missing or disturbed. There was glass on everything and if something had been taken the glass would have been disturbed. I next looked into the front seat area and nothing was disturbed. I opened the front door and unlocked the glove compartment and my wallet was there and nothing was disturbed. I was baffled. Why did someone break in and not take anything. I began to carefully take glass out of the back of the car and while I was doing that Sherry came. She asked what I was doing and I showed her the broken window. She was shocked as well. I told here that I hadn't found anything to be missing but she was numb with shock and a little confused and overwhelmed.

We got into the car. Since Laura and Tim were coming we pulled out of the parking space and headed down the road to where we and they could pull over and told them what had happened. We talked over what we should do under the circumstances and decided that eating out in Vancouver was not a good idea under the circumstances. We decided to go to Chilliwack and eat there.

I don't know if you have ever traveled at highway speeds with one back window open, but it creates pressure waves that can be painful to the ears. It was over 100 deg F so we had the AC on trying to make it comfortable. I opened my front window a bit for a while to reduce the pressure waves but that only allowed more hot air in. As we were traveling I began to ask God why he had allowed someone to break into our car . Then I remembered that we are to give thanks in all things. It was very hard, but I began to thank and praise Him for what had happened. I was tempted a number of times during our hour and a half drive to Chilliwack to question God as to why this had happened but instead, each time, I determined to thank Him and praise Him for what had happened.

We ate at the Wendy's Restaurant and then quickly headed to an Auto Wrecking yard that I knew of on the west side of Chilliwack. By this time it was just a few minutes before 5 p.m. I walked in with two other people who needed parts and was told very firmly by the woman behind the counter that they were closed. I walked up to the counter as she kept repeating that they were closed and told her that all I wanted to know right then was if they had any parts for a Hyundai Santa Fe. She said no, that they didn't deal with Hyundai's but to check next door (another wrecking yard). I went next door and asked the guy behind the counter if He might have a right rear window for a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. He quickly keyed into his computer the pertinent information and told me that I was in luck, they did! They had a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe and the rear right door had been damaged in an accident but the glass was still good. We rejoiced! Had the vehicle been a later model the door design would have been different and would not have matched our vehicle! He gave me to know that if the door had not been damaged, he would not have been free to sell me the window alone, which we got for only $100 CDN. He said to call back first thing in the morning and he would let me know then when they would have it removed from the door and available for pick up. Wow, we were so happy we were able to get this "new" window so quickly.

We now headed to Sherry's folks' place and arriving, found they had gone out and the house was locked. We expected this and had gotten a house key from them. Sherry remembered dropping it in her purse. Asking Sherry how we'd get in, she went for her purse which she had set on the floor behind her car seat early that day. Of course, the purse wasn't there! It then hit us why the car had been broken into! The whereabouts of her purse had crossed her mind that afternoon but Sherry was sure she had left it at home and her mind refused to go there. Now we knew we had an even bigger problem on our hands! I got into the house through our bedroom window and Sherry immediately got on the phone to cancel all of her bank cards.

She had no cash in the purse, but was upset about losing her US Permanent Resident Visa, along with her driver's license, car keys etc. To replace the Visa would be an expense of some $300. Fortunately, we had our passports in another location and whoever broke in never looked beyond the purse for anything else.

I went into our room and asked God to protect Sherry's purse, even though it had been taken more than four hours earlier. I know that God answers our prayers even before we ask. God gave me peace and assurance that everything would work out. Sherry called the Vancouver City Police to make a police report. They told us that we would need to come down in person to make the report. We were concerned about re-entry into the US without Sherry's Visa. She called the Border authorities and they said they would let her cross with her CDN passport and the police report under the circumstances, and would then supply her with the paperwork to apply for a replacement card.

I began to clean out the car. The back was full of broken glass. I took the inside of the door apart so it would not take as long to replace the glass the next day and cleaned all the glass out of the door as well.

The next morning I phoned the wrecking yard and was told the glass would be ready for pickup by 10 a.m. We left in time to get there then. Arriving, I was met by the same friendly counter man who told me that when their guy was taking the glass out of the door he had accidentally broken it! (He must have sensed I was easy going the previous day and thought he'd see what reaction he'd get from me.) I was concerned and sent up a quick prayer, surrendering everything to God again. Then he said no, he was joking, and that the window was right over there! I knew of a little park not too far away where there would be shade and I headed there to install the glass. In less than an hour from the time we had picked up the glass I was finished, less than 24 hrs since it had been broken, and we were heading on to Vancouver to do the police report.

The previous evening I had considered returning to Stanley Park to search the area ourselves, as we would need to be in that area anyway, making out the police report. God impressed me that it would be a waste of time and that He had everything under control. I thought this impression was simply because I have a hard time dealing with heat. The forecast for the day was for temps over 100° again, and I certainly didn't want to search the woods under those conditions. But, I still felt I needed to DO something, under the circumstances.

As we were making out the police report I mentioned to the clerk that we were going to go back to the park to see if we could find the purse in the area we had been. She thought, as I did, that that might be a good idea, since thieves are typically looking for cash only and leave the property behind, not wanting to be caught with any evidence.

Sherry and I went up and down the area thoroughly, praying, searching under bushes, in the hollow of trees, down the bank, coming across a variety of stuff, but not the purse. I was impressed again that God had it all under control and to just let Him work things out in His way. I was dripping with sweat and headed over to the Water Park to cool off.

It was now about 3 p.m. The traffic was horrendous. It took us 45 minutes just to go 3 blocks. Sherry began to reminisce about what we use to do when we lived in the Philippines and had spent the day shopping and doing business in Manila and were heading home to Silang, Cavite, just a 40 mile drive. If we left during rush hour, between 4 and 7 p.m., it would be 9 p.m. before we would get home. So we would go to a mall that was close to the highway and hang out there. They had a nice food court in the basement with lots of vegetarian food. They had a smoothie shop that made incredible smoothies from fresh mango, papaya, pineapple, etc. Their green mango and pineapple smoothie was my favorite. We would head home around 7:30 p.m. and get home before 9 p.m. and not have to deal with bad traffic.

Sherry suggested that since we were close to the Spaghetti Factory we get our supper meal there and let the traffic thin out. I checked the GPS and found that we were only 3 blocks away at the time. When we got on the road again the traffic was much better and we were able to make good time back to Sherry's folks' place.

Friday morning came and Sherry called the Vancouver City Police - Property Department to inquire if a purse had been found matching a description of hers. She had tried to call Thursday evening, believing someone would have already found it and turned it in, but only got their voice mail as their office was closed. The news that Friday morning was not good. Her purse had not been turned in. Then, around 2:30 p.m. the phone rang. Sherry answered it and a woman asked for Sherry's mom by name. The caller then asked her mom if she knew someone by the name of Sherry. She said yes, and put Sherry back on the phone. Sherry then spoke with the caller who identified herself as a Law Enforcement Officer from Orange County, CA, who had Sherry's purse! Sherry excitedly quizzed her about what was in the purse and it sounded like everything was there, even her Drivers License and US Permanent Resident Card! Sherry was in awe - overwhelmed by God's goodness, even though she'd made a foolish mistake!

This law enforcement officer, with 4 others, happened to be visiting Vancouver at the time, competing in the Police and Firemen Olympics being held that week, and were staying in an apartment suite in the Stanley Park area. They had all been out on a hike in Stanley Park that morning. She and another officer decided they would separate from the others in the group and hike on a less traveled trail. That is when she came upon this bright red purse sitting up on a rock and, being a law enforcement officer, she investigated! She said they were concerned that they might also find a body close by but were glad that they didn't! When they got back to their apartment they went through the purse looking for contact information. She called our home in Washington but got no answer. She called our daughter whose cell phone was turned off. She continued searching and found a personal check in the purse made out to Sherry with her mother's name and phone number and decided to call there, hoping that she would know Sherry. The check was a birthday present that Sherry had intended to cash but hadn't yet, for some reason! That check was the key to finding us before we left Canada! So, arrangements were made to meet in Vancouver on Sunday morning as we didn't want to make another 2-3 hour trip into Vancouver, especially on a Friday afternoon! Sunday was the day we were going to be heading home and crossing the border anyway, so Vancouver would not be that far out of our way. Sherry had some anxiety about leaving it until Sunday, but realized God was in this and He was taking care of it for her.

Early Sunday morning we headed to Vancouver to meet Sherry's benefactor and retrieve her purse. The officer happened to be a Hispanic woman. Praise God for lovely Hispanic people! We had a few minutes together, taking pictures and marveling at how good God is. In appreciation, Sherry left her a little gift she had prepared. They will be keeping in touch. What an experience! Thankfully, our border crossing was uneventful and we had a safe trip home.

God is so good! He's able to do much more than we think! Looking back, we could have avoided the search in the woods if I had listened to the impression God gave me. I'm realizing that God sometimes sends us trials simply to test our faith and build our confidence in Him and His ability to take care of us and all our needs, in every situation. We may simply rest in Him and allow Him to work things out in His way and His timing. I believe He wants us to depend on Him 100%. He wants and deserves all the credit! There's no doubt in my mind that as we lean on Him, He'll never let us down. It's all about Him, not us. I've read Jim Hohnberger's book "Escape to God" and our experience confirms what he shares there about God.


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