I just finished reading Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn, Newell, Colleen, and Whitney Cerak, and Mark Tabb. Some of you may know this is a true story about a tragic accident in April of 2006. I had been wanting to read this since the book came out but I forgot about it for a while then was always on the waiting list. I don't really buy books so I just had to wait until a copy became available at the library.
When I first started reading this, I did not know Taylor University was a Christian college. I just kept thinking "Wow, how wonderful these students come together to pray!" A little further into the book it explains it is a Christian University. (duh)
Anyway, this is a story of a tragic car accident involving a van full of Taylor University students and staff and a semi. The only student to survive the crash was Whitney Cerak. However, the faculty called to the scene to identify the bodies mistakes her for Laura Van Ryn. Her parents choose not to view the body because they do not want that image of their daughter burned into their minds. They proceed to have a funeral for her and grieve the loss of their daughter.
Meanwhile the Van Ryn family care for Whitney around the clock thinking all the while she is Laura. There are a few pictures in the book that made me wonder how they could not know this was not their daughter. To me they look nothing alike. Her face was not covered in bandages. Even though I am sure the picture in the book was not what she looked like when she came to the hospital. Yes they beat themselves up over that and asked themselves the same question once they found out the truth. I wonder if the desperate need to have their 22 year old daughter alive is what allowed them to over look the little things that just didn't seem quite right. The wrong family cared for the wrong girl for five weeks. After five weeks she started to come out of the coma and was able to tell them her name was Whitney.
The whole time I was reading this book, which was full of their blog entries during this time, I was so awestruck with their faith. Both families knew without a doubt they would see their loved one again. They knew God's strength would get them through the tragedy. The way they were able to think about and pray for all the other families affected in the midst of their grief was just so inspiring.
I want my faith to be that strong. I want what they have. Even though the book was about tragedy and so many wonderful lives being lost, it was mostly about hope and faith. It was encouraging and about looking to God even when you don't understand His plan.