What a mother said that helped her 2 children while they were stranded on paddleboards during a storm


In this week's episode of This Is the Gospel, MeiLani and her family try to enjoy some time at the beach together while on a work trip. But when rain and snow periodically dampen their plans, they quickly realize that every moment of sunshine should be seized outside. During such a moment of fun in the sun, MeiLani gets a prompting to be near her two children who are paddle boarding in the water. As the weather quickly takes a turn for the worst, MeiLani is forced to watch helplessly as her children struggle to make it safely back to land—until she remembers two words that carried her family through a storm of a different kind.

An adapted excerpt from the story is below. Listen to the full episode here or click here to read the transcript.

We were headed to a friend's beach house to visit their property because we run Airbnb vacation rentals and so kind of to collaborate on that, but also to hang out with friends. We ended up bringing a couple of our family members. So it ended up turning from 14 people into about 30 people at this big house and we were going to be here for seven days. All seven days had pretty much rain and a little snow. So anytime we would see the sun, we'd be like, "Okay, let's go. Let's go take advantage of the sun." 

My sweet niece, her name is Dixie, [she] went [to the beach] and took out two of my kids: Houston, who just turned 12 last week, and then also Hadley, who is almost about to turn 10, and they went out with one of our friends' kids named Owen.

Dixie is in her early 20s, so I felt like, "Okay, Dixie can handle this. Dixie can take those guys and all will be well. She's an adventurer. She's lived years in Alaska, she can handle any sort of adventure." I totally trust her, 100 percent. I was like, "Oh, okay, I'm down two kids, then I can totally go and hang out and just maybe I might actually read a book." So as I went down, and I was getting my book, and I was so excited because it's so fresh. It's never been opened, but it [had been sitting] on my book stand for many months. 

I started to open my book and thought, "You know what, you've got to take your book to go be out by the kids." I looked out and I was starting to sprinkle a little and so I was like, "Uh, no. It's gonna get my nice, clean book all wet." So I was like, "No, I'm fine." Then once again, I had the thought of, "You need to go out and be by the kids." When this prompting came to me the third time, and probably because we had just been studying Martin Harris a couple of weeks earlier, I really felt, "Okay, how many more times? I'm not going to give [this prompting] to you again." So I got my jacket on, left the book behind, and headed out to see the kids. 

I started down this long boardwalk and I can see them as I'm walking out. Each of them had their own paddle board or kayak. We had Dixie, we had Owen, who is 14 years old, and then we had Hadley and Houston. 

Just in the period of me starting this walk of what? [About] 60 yards, the rain started getting harder and harder and I swear it dropped degrees every second I walked and it was getting colder and colder with this rain. 

As they were out there, I saw three of them together and I saw Owen actually had kind of left them. So it kind of seemed as if Owen was like, "Peace out, I'm going back in. It's cold. This is no longer fun." And it's his house, so he's familiar with the terrain. 

I can see the other three—I'm terrible with distances, but maybe 50 yards away. . . . But it was far enough that they couldn't hear me, especially with the pounding rain, and it was really, really windy. So if I yelled, they really couldn't hear me very well at all, if at all, and I was about to yell, "Are you guys okay?" 

Right at that moment, Owen, I see, is right along the reeds on my side. There's no sand, this isn't a sand beach because we're on the sound side. He's paddling along the reeds because along the reeds, there's not very much current. So he, you could tell, was seasoned enough to know, ride it down the current, and then paddle back along the reeds. 

But that's when I looked out. As I was saying, "Hey! Hey!" and they weren't responding, I saw them getting out onto one of those big reed patches. I saw them put their arms around each other, and I could tell that they were starting to get scared. They were trying to starting to get nervous. 

I thought at that point, "Okay, well, hopefully, I've done something right because they're turning to prayer pretty early. So hopefully, hopefully, that will work, hopefully we're [moving in] the right direction." As they finish their prayer, I could see them hug and then release. 

During that time, I realized, "Okay, I've got to get them support. I've got to figure out a way to get the word out of just do what Owen did, just do it." I'm trying to yell and they can't hear me. I'm trying to call Dixie's cell phone, and it's not working. By this time, some of my other family members are coming out because it is getting serious enough. I have my other niece there and she was so sweet, another Alaskan that thinks that she can brave everything. She's like, "I'll go out there and I'll go rescue." Her dad came out and said, "No, I don't want you to go out there right now. Like, let's just focus on getting these ones back instead of losing another one." 

But that's when my brother-in-law, all of a sudden, his phone rings. He said, "I can't answer this right now. I don't recognize this phone number." I look over, and I see that that's our family phone number. ...And I said, "No, wait! You answer that. That's them! That's them!"

So we tried to tell him just to ride to the current just ride the current because if you rode the current down the sound so away from the ocean side, right? But it's going to go back out. This is an island so there's another side to the ocean, right? But . . . we could see probably just over a mile down the water, down the sound, that there was a marina. At this marina, there's going to be boats to dock and stuff but there's also big tall logs, like buoys, that maybe you could go and catch on to one of those or something.

So we were trying to communicate this but this was really not getting through and we're like, "Even if you get to the marina, that's okay, we'll come pick you up." But then we were like trying to point and so we finally just said, "Just go to the dock." 

They all get back in their boats and Dixie, poor Dixie, is walking back and forth on this reed patch that is full of those oysters. She's just walking back and forth like nothing and trying to move the boats in a different way. But also trying to decide at this point. I can see that she's questioning if [Houston and Hadley] are functioning. You could tell that Hadley wasn't functioning so great and because Hadley couldn't function, she couldn't paddle on her own. . . . 

I thought, "What could they do? And I said, "Dixie," and, mind you, it's still super windy, super rainy. We can barely hear any words. I said, "Dixie, I just need you to say to [Hadley] 'Hocks do.'" Our last name is Hock, and I said, "Just say, 'Hocks do.'" I said it over and over again, "Just say, 'Hocks do.'" 

[Dixie] said, "Wait, what? Just say, 'Hocks do, what? Hocks do, what?'" I said, "No, just say 'Hocks do.'" And Dixie said to [Hadley] in the rain and the wind. "Hocks do, Hadley. I'm supposed to say, 'Hocks do.'"

I could hear my sweet little 10-year-old voice in the background, who was so nervous, and couldn't even function at this point. I could hear her yell back, "Hard things! Hocks do hard things!"

For the rest of the story, listen to the full episode here or click here to read the transcript.

Lead image of Dixie with Houston and Hadley after making it back to shore. Photo courtesy MeiLani Hock.
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