Not the outcome we had prayed and hoped for when we were contacted 2 weeks early about Ryan possibly participating in a clinical trial at UCLA.
All the doors were wide open or so it seemed. Just the events leading up finding out about this opportunity seemed to say, God was paving the way.
For the first time ever we had hope of a treatment! Even if it was only a clinical trial they were only accepting 12 boys, nationwide and Ryan was given this chance. We were told we needed to be at UCLA within 2 weeks. Jeff worked hard to get our van and trailer ready for the trip. Almost 2 weeks later, after 3 long, tiring days of driving we arrived in California, the day before Ryan’s appointment.
Ryan’s first test was a pulmonary function test. We knew they would do this one first. If he did not meet the minimal requirements of this test then that would be it, there would be no need for further testing. He did not pass the first day, they knew he was tired from the long drive so asked us to come back the next day. Unfortunately the next day was the same results. The man who was running the clinical trial told us the news, handed us some forms to sign, said he was sorry and walked out of the room.
Ryan, Jeff and I sat there in silence. Jeff and I didn’t dare look at each other, knowing what we would see in each other faces. We were numb. The whole whirlwind of events over the past 2 weeks to get us here made this moment seem unreal. We felt for sure this was the direction God was leading us, then to have this chance of hope be taken from us, just that quickly.
After a few minutes in silence we got to leave. Still processing what we were just told we wandered through the Downtown UCLA area looking for a place to eat lunch. Not really feeling like we could eat, but not ready to get back in the van, to face the fact that this was it, the end of a long awaited chance at hope. We fought through the busy crowded street peaking inside the different cafes. Wondering if we would find something that would fill the emptiness.
The wonderful smell from the Pho Vietnamese noodle cafe made us stop to look inside. Yet we quickly realized how small it was and it would be difficult for Ryan to get in. We started walking past when one of the waiters opened the door and asked if we were coming in. Jeff and I tried to explain to him about Ryan and he reassured us in broken English they would make room. We didn’t want to make a scene so we thanked him and walked on. We wandered through the streets for about 20 more minutes.
Still feeling like we were in a daze, unable to even make a decision about where we were going to eat, we decided to just head back toward our van. As we approached the Vietnamese cafe the waiter opened the door and said, "you come inside"! He was NOT taking no for an answer! He went in and moved tables, chairs and even customers around, smiling and reassuring us they would make room for Ryan! At this point, feeling like we couldn’t say no again, we walked in, thanked him and settling into our tiny table. We picked up the menu seeing they only offered noodle soup, knowing how hard that was for Ryan to eat we started second guessing our decision. The waiter must have noticed the distressed look on our faces so he marched back over to our table. He explained to us all the dishes on the menu, then pretty much ordered his favorite for us! Okay, that decision was made!
When our food arrived Ryan was feeling awkward. Soup is not the easiest thing for him to eat yet he refused to have us help him. He got so frustrated, I was in tears watching him struggle to eat and all the reality of the day came bubbling up. About the time I was ready to say FORGET IT, an older Vietnamese women came over to Ryan. Not saying a word, she tied a big white dishtowel around his neck, smiled at him, and walked back to the kitchen. This little offer of quiet kindness seemed to say to Ryan, its okay! Make a mess, we don’t care! We were in a tiny Vietnamese café in the middle of downtown LA , Yet we felt watched over and cared for. Maybe it was the warmth of the soup or the kindness of strangers yet we felt ourselves finally able to take a moment to relax and breath.
They had no idea the disappointment and discouragement we had been through, yet they went out of their way to show us kindness and understanding. We felt alone wondering why God seemed to say No to a prayer that we so desperately wanted to be a Yes. God knew our hearts were breaking. He wanted us to know he saw us and I have no doubt he used these people to minister much needed comfort to our family!
Do you feel alone? Do wonder if God still sees? Are you waiting for the answer to a long time prayer? Did God give you a no to a prayer you so desperately wanted? God will show you he cares. He will find ways to offer you hope and comfort sometimes in the most unexpected ways. Even in the middle of Downtown LA he can used strangers to offer a little respite. Sometimes it will be later that you are able to look back and see specific ways he was there. Time and Perspective is a beautiful thing!
We know God led us down to California. All the doors were opened. The path was laid out even before we received the call. Then to have the door close. To get a no answer to this prayer was not what we expected. God may have said No to this prayer, but he did use this situation in an answer to another prayer. One that I had been praying about this past summer! Part 2, An Unexpected answer to prayer, to follow soon!