Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Spider Massacre Week

29 June 2015

Dear Family,

When you are trying to fall asleep in a poisonous spider infested house, the following might give you and your companion comfort:
  • D&C 122:9 "Fear not what arañas can do..."
  • Elder Oaks, who visited our mission, probably prayed for the missionaries today.
  • If angels can shut the mouths of lions for Daniel, surely spiders can't be that hard.
  • If it's time, it's time. I just hope that if we die the Elders in the office who have yet to send someone to spray our house don't feel guilty their whole lives.
  • If the spiders get me, I will keep preaching the gospel in the Spirit World. I can't wait to teach Santa Teresa of Los Andes, remember?
  • "I can't die yet! There are blessings in my Patriarchal Blessing that have yet to be fulfilled!" -Hermana Fullmer
  • "Maybe they'll make a movie of us, like The Saratov Approach."-Me "But I'm pretty sure that for it to be interesting one of us would have to die...And I don't want it to be me." -Hermana Fullmer
  • It's like Moses and the plagues. It's just a sign that the people aren't listening to us.
After who knows how many months the exterminator was finally called. We spent part of Wednesday packing up all of our clothes, dishes, and proselyting materials into one room so the spiders could be reached. The Elders in charge of housing came and helped us get rid of some things we don't use, such as extra tables, chairs, rolls of carpet, and a hideous armchair that probably had spiders inside it. Gross.

On Thursday Heber, the exterminator, arrived at 5:00. We showed him the house and he said, "This place hasn't been inhabited, right?" No, we live here. "You LIVE HERE?" Yes, we just packed up all of our things yesterday. "You mean you've been sleeping here?" Yes, with the spiders. We know. He could hardly believe us. He helped us move one of the closets and there were all sorts of brown recluses and other spiders living behind it. He started stomping on some of them that startled him. We didn't flinch. We're used to it. 

He put his mask on and we left while he sprayed poison all over. When he came out we had a nice conversation about the gospel in the street as we waited for the Elders to show up and sign the papers. By the time they got there Heber had told us his whole life story and said, "I don't talk to anyone. I feel good. Thank you." He left us with instructions to buy white masks from the pharmacy and enter the house after two hours really quickly to open the windows and then leave. We were supposed to let it air out again for two or three hours and then it would supposedly be safe to enter if the poison smell was gone.

We did as he instructed and in the process of running into the house and opening the windows I cut one of my fingers. It wasn't bad but it was bleeding and I couldn't go back in to look for a bandaid because the air was awful so we had to visit some members, the bishop’s son and his wife, Tiare, to clean it and ask for a bandaid.

We continued with proselyting and taught a lesson to a couple.

When we entered the house again just before ten (the mission rule is that we enter at 9:30 or 10:00 at the latest if we are teaching a lesson) it still smelled really bad and all of the spiders had come out from their hiding places. I poked a couple with a hanger and they still weren't dead, just dizzy and slow. We decided we absolutely were NOT going to sleep there and breathe that air and get bitten by vengeful spiders. We called the APs and asked for permission to go stay with Hermana Nuñez and Hermana Chavez. 

We could not stand being in that house any longer so we grabbed our emergency backpacks and ran. (Side note: When the Elders helped us move things they made fun of our very full and heavy emergency backpacks. One said, "There's not going to be an earthquake until you are at home with kids." Well, we haven't seen an earthquake but the emergency backpack did come in handy and not for the first time. See also: Llay Llay, power outage.) Our emergency backpacks had the essentials so we could spend the night somewhere else and we set out for Los Valles 1 to visit our fellow sister missionaries. It was now well past ten.

Several people in the bus recognized us as missionaries and helped us know where to get off at the chapel in Los Valles. They also warned us to be careful because it's a dangerous, "flaite," sector. I don't know what to be scared of, flaites, spiders, poison, being out late and breaking all of the rules (with permission). 

We arrived safe and sound and were happy to sleep in a house with fresh air to breathe.
The next day we returned to the house and started cleaning up the spider corpses that by then were definitely dead. Their bodies had taken on the texture of tissue paper and there is no way that they were alive. And I was glad that we hadn't exposed our bodies to that poison for very long after seeing what it did to the spiders.

We have taken advantage of the fact that our house is empty and all of the furniture is moved to clean all of the nooks and crannies. We have been cleaning in all of our spare time and are exhausted. I told you I was fine last week and I still am but this was the most tiring week of my whole mission. It's kind of empowering. I didn't know I could do so much without resting and I feel invincible. We leave in time to proselyte and when we return for dinner or in the evening we clean, clean, clean. The house is still really ugly but we feel the difference. 

On a proselyting note:

Our investigator went to church again and is progressing so well! She has an appointment for her and her husband to get married legally August 5th at 8:30 am (it's the soonest time available, Chile is kind of complicated). We are hoping that the ward will help with a little reception or something. It means that she can be baptized on August 9th. 

The Dote family, a young couple that moved in with Hermana Dote's parents, came with us to teach. They moved into the ward two or three weeks ago from another ward in our stake and Hermano Dote mentioned to me that he had taught with the Elders in his ward (our zone leaders) but didn't know if he was going to participate in this ward because there are only sister missionaries. I said, "Of course you can, you just have to bring your wife!" They both helped us teach our investigator about the priesthood and auxiliary organizations. It was great because he could talk about the priesthood and Hermana Dote talked about Relief Society and how we fulfill callings and share our talents. The desire of our investigator’s heart is to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and I explained that later she would receive callings, be set apart by priesthood authority, and be guided by the Spirit to teach and help those in her care. She is so excited and so willing to serve and hopes to have opportunities to teach. I know she will.

Hermana Fullmer and I gave talks yesterday along with our ward mission leader. I talked about having a desire to share the gospel. Our Heavenly Father respects our agency and gives us what we truly want, ask for, and work for. If we want to share the gospel, He will provide us with opportunities and help us to be successful. If it's not important to us, we will not be obligated. It’s just like any other commandment. Hermana Fullmer talked about how to share the gospel and invited the ward to invite people to their family home evenings to be an example. Hermano Leo Roman talked about habits of LDS families and also talked about how members should help us find investigators. He said, "We are always praying for the missionaries and praying that they can find people who are prepared to receive the gospel but the missionaries are praying that WE can find people who are prepared to receive the gospel." I really just wish I could somehow transmit to each of the members a sincere desire to be a missionary, not only because it would help us find investigators to teach but because I have learned that sharing the gospel brings joy. I know the members could share the gospel more effectively than us and that the people they invite are more likely to progress and stay active, but mostly I just want them to live what they believe and love opportunities to teach as much as I am learning to.

I'm safe and excited to focus on teaching the gospel and not think about spiders or slugs or ticks this week. Maybe there will be an earthquake. We'll restock our emergency backpacks :)

Today we are going to the planetarium for P-day and then we will keep cleaning during the soccer game this evening.

I love you all!
Hermana Eva VanCott

Packing all of our things in one room in preparation for the extermination.
And our emergency backpacks... a crucial element of our story

1 comment:

  1. We're so glad you are safe, but can't help but love your story and sense of humor! We continue to pray for you and your mission to teach the Gospel and lead people to the temple. Much love, The Durrans