Yesterday, at surf camp, they announced that Bethany Hamilton would be at Hansen's surf shop signing autographs today at 6:00 pm.
It should be noted that my seven-year-old son is BANANAS for Bethany Hamilton. I really sort of think that if he was ten years older he'd be begging her to dump her fiance and wait for him. It's a surfer boy crush. HE LOVES HER. Last summer, when we went to Hawaii, he continually asked if we might bump in to Bethany Hamilton. I told him that, no, probably not. Since we were on Maui and she lives on Kauai and also TRAVELS THE WORLD.
So you'd better believe that when he had the opportunity to get within two feet of his beloved Bethany Hamilton (never just Bethany--always Bethany Hamilton) he was going to take it.
We were told that it would be a BIG event. We needed to go straight from surf camp--which ends at 1:00--up to Encinitas and wait until SIX when the signing would start.
He remained convinced.
It needed to happen.
After all, he has seen Soul Surfer at least twelve million times.
My sister-in-law and brother were kind enough to take Matthew for me. Matthew also loves himself some Bethany Hamiltons (yes--with the "s") but I didn't think he would love himself some five hours in the sun waiting for her.
When we got there, about 70 people were in line in front of us. We were told that she'd be signing for about an hour and get through roughly 250 autographs. I set up our lawn chairs right in front of this giant sign. It was facing the street in a busy beach town.
Under Cobian Ambassador it reads: Bethany Hamilton has become a source of inspiration to millions through her story of faith, determination and hope. At the age of thirteen, on October 31, 2003, Bethany was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing off Kauai's North Shore. The attack left Bethany with a severed left arm. Miraculously, just one month after the attack, Bethany returned to the water to continue pursuing her goal to become a professional surfer. In 2007, Bethany realized her dream and turned pro.
Cobian is proud to welcome Bethany as an Ambassador and is excited to offer Bethany's Signature Sandal. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Friends of Bethany, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the hope and love of Jesus Christ worldwide by supporting and inspiring people through the life stories of Bethany Hamilton and others.
FACING THE STREET, I said. OF A BUSY BEACH TOWN. AND DISPLAYING THE NAME OF OUR SAVIOR.
This was our place in line.
Garrett played and surfed in the sun from 9-1. Then he sat in line from 1:45-5:00. They gave us free waters, free pizza, and free Hansen's stickers. Then we moved from our spot in the blazing sun and he stood in line for another hour. Then we moved some more. Finally, at about 6:45, this happened.
That crowd was 90% little girls. And my son--who just really loves Bethany Hamilton.
And that's fine by me because she just really loves Jesus.
She smiled and signed but didn't say much. Photos had to be snapped as you walked by. But Bryan Jennings from Walking on Water happened to be standing there doing crowd control. He and Bethany are good friends and she's done some work with Walking on Water. "This is one of our campers," he said to Bethany. "Did you get the shot?" he asked me.
"I'm not sure," I replied.
He took the camera from me and took two more.
On the way back to the car I said, "Tell me something about Bethany?"
"She surfs really big waves."
"Yep. Tell me the most important thing about her."
He replied, "She loves Jesus."
There's a line in Soul Surfer where AnnaSophia Robb, as Bethany Hamilton, says to a child who is eyeing her body, "Something's missing, yeah?"
When we got back to my brother's house, Matthew asked Garrett what Bethany looked like. "Well, she has really golden hair," my older son replied.
"What does her body look like?" the younger brother asked.
Garrett paused, "Well, part of it is missing."
There is no overlooking the lost arm. The scar is entirely visible, there is no forgetting the tiger shark. Something is missing. But not in her life. The love of Jesus pours out in her smile, in the sparkle of her eyes, in the way she seems to love life. I spent thirty seconds with her. No words were exchanged. She was frantically scribbling her name onto posters. But I caught a glimpse of a life lived in surrender to Christ.
And it was worth the five hour wait.