This week has been a wild ride. I’ve worked three ten hour days. I assisted with donkeys for my church’s western series (that is a different story). But most importantly...I became a search member in the search to find missing Morgan Hill teenager, Sierra LaMar. It has affected me more than anything has in a long time.
People tell me I tend to feel things more than most. It kills me when I hear stories of child abuse, animal abuse, domestic violence and other tragedies. The good thing about feeling is that it prompts me into praying. I truly believe in the power of prayer.
About two weeks into Sierra’s disappearance, one day I woke up feeling driven to do something, anything, to help find her. I had been praying she would be found. I began praying harder.
If you know anything about me, it is that I am a Hello Kitty, pretty pens, always wanting to look cute, wanna-be-perfect-hair kind of girl. I carry a Hello Kitty notebook around. I have Hello Kitty rain boots. I buy outfits to go along with my church’s sermon series. Cowgirl boots with pretty flowers as of late. I also have horrible joints and a bad back and am in pain pretty much constantly. BAD pain. Doing anything that requires exertion means the possibility of being in bed for days afterward.
Nevertheless, I felt I HAD to help search. I couldn’t sit around doing nothing but being my prissy self while there was a missing girl out there somewhere in the world begging to be found. I tried to find someone to go with me one Saturday. As you can probably tell I’m kind of a wimp. There were no takers. The following weekend, a friend had agreed to come with me. The evening before she had to cancel. I cried. My husband, realizing how serious I was about this, said he would accompany me the following weekend.
Thus, we found ourselves in Morgan Hill on Saturday, April 14, 2012. As we drove into the town, my heart ached at all of the pink ribbons on every tree going down the main road. Each tree and telephone pole or street light had a “Missing” sign on it and her beautiful face. Maybe it was my imagination, but I felt a pall of sadness over the whole town. It seemed eerily quiet.
After a direction snafu, we finally arrived at Burnett Elementary School, the headquarters for the search campaign. People were coming in and out with muddy boots and yellow emergency vests. There were picture of Sierra and notes to her covering the walls of headquarters.
We went through the signup process and were asked if we wanted to do an easy search---going door to door in an assigned area asking questions and handing out fliers, a medium search--being assigned a medium difficulty terrain area, or a hard search. I, of course, being the overachiever said we would do the hard search. The guy in charge looked at my shoes (pretty silver and purple skecher tone-ups) and said, “Maybe you should start with a medium search. You don’t want to find yourself out there in a place you don’t want to be. You can always do a hard search the next time.” Thank God for this man’s wisdom!
Finally a group of eight strangers became search team 437.We were briefed by a Klass Kids team member and told about the area we would search. We were warned of rattlesnakes, ticks, and other such things.
Before searching, we went to a bug spray station to douse ourselves so as not to become infested with bugs, including my worst nightmare...ticks. My heart fluttered about what we could encounter but I didn’t become overwhelmingly worried like I thought I would be.
We went to our search location only to find that both access points were blocked by tall chain link fences. We returned to headquarters for a new search area as they didn’t want us trespassing on private property to gain access to our area.
For our new search, we became team 510. We were given what looked to be a doable search area. We arrived. What the aerial map hadn’t really shown was a wooded area and creek, not visible due to dense brush. Our terrain had gone from medium to hard. But we did it! We searched and hiked and climbed down rocks to the creek and back up again. We battled red ant hills while swinging golf clubs to look for clues through the brush or to ward off rattlesnakes.
It’s amazing what people throw out in the middle of nowhere. We found traps that perhaps the homeless had set to catch food, homeless camps, children’s toys, and other disturbing items. There is more to this story but I don’t feel it appropriate to elaborate now.
Needless to say, we didn’t find her. But I’m not giving hope...I can’t. I’m trying to get a group together to go up within the next few weekends to search further.
To her family and friends...I am praying so hard for her safe return. Something I read somewhere ( I forget exactly where ) said it right...she is everyone’s little girl now. I won’t stop praying...