Saturday, March 20, 2010

Truly a Miracle

It is nothing less than a miracle that I was able to locate my long lost pen pal. I want to try and explain a little bit of how amazing it truly is, but first let me tell you a little about Wren.

When I was about 8, my family and I visited a Christian horse camp, Miracle Mountain Ranch, in North Western Pennsylvania. My parents were in a band called God's Country and had a gig at the ranch. I absolutely fell in love with the place and had always wanted to go back. I think I was about 15 when I finally talked my parents into letting me return, this time for summer camp. It was the first and only time I had been to summer camp. I didn't know what to expect, and though camp was somewhat fun (and I won a few riding competitions), the best part of camp was this awesome friendship I made with a girl named Wren.

I was trying to think of a way to describe her, and somehow this is what came to mind. If you haven't seen the movie UP, you need to check out that video. Wren was thin, short red hair, lots of freckles. She was outgoing, funny, adventurous. We just hit it off. At the end of the week we traded addresses and began writing each other. (Yes, writing. Good old pen and paper. At 15, I didn't have a cell phone, or email address. It was definitely different back then. Though there were some really neat things about that, and the excitement of getting a letter in the mail. There is also something great about the quickness of email, and also the fact that no matter where we move, our email stays the same! If I had met her as a 15 year old today, I'm sure we would have never lost touch.) We continued writing for a long time; even after her family moved her all the way out to California. But somehow, over the years, we ended up losing touch.

I always wondered what had happened to her, and about 4 years ago I started searching. The tricky part about doing the typical internet people search is that Wren was Wren's middle name. Her full name was Carol Wren Compton. Can I tell you how many Carol Comptons there are in California? Even searching by age, it seemed impossible. I even used a paid service once to get an address that I thought might be her, but never got the nerve to write. As MySpace became big, and then Facebook, I would always look, but was never able to find her. Every 6 months or so, she would come across my mind and I'd do a search, always to no prevail.

A few months ago I came across a search engine called pipl.com. They boast that they search the "Deep Web" instead of just the "surface web", searched my most search engines. When I typed in Wren Compton, a few things came up. There were some male profiles and news articles, nothing that looked correct. There was an old profile at bebo.com, and amazon.com. They both seemed to have the age and dates correct, but no contact information. There was one other personal profile that came up. It was simply a snapshot of a profile built years ago and amazingly enough had a small blurry thumbnail picture of a redheaded girl. IT HAD TO BE HER! When I clicked on it, there was a short blurb about this girl, that she had been married and also lived in a town called Scappoose in Oregon. Clicking around some more, I ended up with dead ends because the profile was so old there was no current information. Trying to go back and get the married last name, I realized that the profile I originally saw was only a snapshot of the profile from years ago and was no longer there! I didn't make a note of the new last name and all I had was Scappoose, Oregon. I searched Oregon for Wren Comptons and Carol Wren Comptons, and no success.

About a month ago, I thought I'd try again. I wasn't stalking, I swear, but there was something fun about trying to find her and solve the puzzle! I did a search of C. Comptons in Oregon, I forget what website, but I came across a C. W. Compton age 26 and underneath there was a sub name of C. W. Rank. So I decided to start searching Wren Rank and see what would come up. I went back to the pipl.com website because I seemed to have found success there once before. Surprisingly enough, the bebo.com and amazon.com profiles came up again. I had a feeling I was on the right track, but as before there was no way to contact through these profiles. At the bottom of the page there was a "document search" that would pull up any and all documents on the internet that had the words "Wren" and "Rank". There was only one document listed, and this document happened to be a church prayer team memo from December 2009. The church was Warren Community Fellowship in Warren, OR. The excerpt simply said "Ladies who are pregnant: Tracey Newton, Cassie Pousson, and Wren Rank."

This is still a long shot. Who knows if the C. W. Compton/C. W. Rank that I found in the original search was even my friend. I was searching the name Wren Rank completely on a whim. I was assuming that my friend from Pennsylvania, that had moved to California, possibly got married, moved again to this tiny town in Oregon, and was pregnant. There was an informational email address on the church's bulletin and I thought I'd write an email seeing if I could talk them into giving me some more information on this Wren Rank. Sounds crazy, I know.

Can you believe it?? I GOT A RESPONSE! I had said in the email that I was searching a Carol Wren Compton, and thought it may be the Wren Rank on the prayer list. The church's secretary confirmed that a Wren Rank attended there (which wasn't really new news) but that she didn't have her email but a phone number. The secretary said that she would call Wren and let her know about my email. I waited about a week, and when I didn't hear anything else I emailed the secretary again asking if she could make sure to pass my email address and phone number along. Well, one month and one day passed, and nothing. I really had forgotten about the whole thing.

Last night, at 11:30 (way past my bedtime), Keith was going through his spam mail deleting it all. My spam mail is set up with an automatic delete. Every 30 days it deletes all emails forever, I never even open the folder up. Somehow we were laughing about the crazy email subjects that make it into our spam and I thought I'd go to mine and join in the fun. There was nothing really funny in mine, so I just started selecting entire pages at a time, and hitting delete. Page after page, delete, delete, delete, del- ...WREN?? Sure enough, the 4th to last email of ALL THE SPAM was an email with the subject "Shanna, it's Wren!” I had already "selected all" on that page and was literally half a second away from clicking "delete forever". I CAN'T BELIEVE I ALMOST MISSED IT! Then, on top of that, the email was dated Feb. 18, 2010. Yesterday was March 19th, 2010 which means it had been 30 days, and somehow my spam had not yet automatically deleted this email! Then I realized it was 11:40; was I really 20 minutes away from losing this email forever?

Well, after all that, I found her, Wren Rank, living in Oregon, married, and due with her first born, baby Isaac, in June. Now tell me GOD didn't make that happen? How awesome to be reconnected with my childhood friend! Hopefully we can have a phone conversation soon and catch up on what we've missed for the past 13 years. I'm so excited!

4 comments:

A & W said...

a paid service? Wow, I'm so flattered! :) I am so glad that God helped you find me! Can't wait to catch up and be pen (email!) pals again! Love the pictures of your family, so precious!

Shanna B said...

Well, the free sites gave me NOTHING! So I had to try... :) Did you watch the video? It came to mind when I started thinking of how to describe you. haha... UP was a great movie.

A & W said...

I actually own that movie! I got it for Christmas :) I love it!

Anonymous said...

oh i feel the relief from here. i, too found a long lost best friend/penpal (also from camp). my search wasn't nearly as extensive as yours... except that i was totally non-social-networky at the time, so i thought it absolutely miraculous when i found my bff/penpal on myspace.
we just recently connected for real when she came down to boise for easter and we met up. we were able to catch up the last 15 years over coffee. -until the coffee shop closed. then we moved over to the closest restaurant (hooters) until it closed. it was awesome. i hope you and wren are able to do the same somehow. maybe not hooters... but catching up!
:) tawna