I woke up Tuesday at 1:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom, flipped on the light, and freaked out- a beginning missionary's nightmare was on my wall. Yup, a tarantula. It was the real deal- as big as my palm, hairy, the poisonous kind- in my bedroom! (Although I've recovered since then, just writing about it gets me tripping again. I just had to stop and look under my table to make sure his brother or sister wasn't lurking there waiting to attack, but all is well thankfully.)
So anyways, I freaked out. I realized right away it was just me and this spider and God as my helper- it was 1:00 a.m. and everyone was sleeping. I had to kill it, or leave the room and chance him hiding and me living in constant paranoia in my bedroom from that point forward. I grabbed a shoe, but quickly thought that's only about 3 times as big as he is, so I grabbed a big heavy journal instead. He was darting around the room, moving much more quickly than you'd think a tarantula would. I stood there in the middle of the room holding the journal waiting for the right moment to strike, pretty much frozen in fear. The longer I waited and watched, the more scared I got. And I just couldn't work up the courage to do it.
After maybe ten minutes of standing there unsuccessfully, the fear growing, I finally decided to wake up Alfons, one of the older guys in the orphanage. I knocked on his door 5 times to no avail- he must be a hard sleeper. I thought, I'll take my chances running down the dark scary staircase and outside to the other guys' rooms. I made it down the stairs only to see a big locked door. I thought, okay, I'll call one of them, get my phone and call, and discover I have no phone credit. I still need to go to the bathroom, so I go into Travis' now empty room to use his toilet, flip open the lid, and there are 2 big huge cockroaches (another thing I'm scared of) inside who don't go down when I flush it. Things are just not going well for me this night!
I am too scared to go back into my room, too scared to sleep in the spare room or even with the kids, and there is no one to help me. I decide to just pace the hallway and pray until someone wakes up the next morning. I realized how ridiculous I'm being, but I just can't go back into my room. As I'm pacing the hallway and praying, God immediately starts showing me that this isn't just about a spider. It runs deeper- it's about my fear.
I've never really considered myself a fearful person. I have jumped out of a plane, bungee jumped, moved to foreign countries by myself, etc. without even blinking an eye. I love adventure. The cholera epidemic didn't scare me; I just trust God. But since I've been out here fear has been surfacing repeatedly for the first time in my life. When my best friend prayed for me before I left to move here, she prayed that I would be known in the spiritual realm and mentioned how she thought of the story of the missionary who woke up to see a demon in his bedroom and said "oh, it's you again" and went back to sleep- and she prayed that I would have that same kind of confidence and fearlessness in Christ. And in the beginning on my time here, laying in my little dark room at night, I would remember that prayer and get scared about demons being in my bedroom. I would get scared of my big dark window leading outside, and think of men climbing up on it and trying to come in my room in the middle of the night. I would constantly turn on my little flashlight and shine it around the room and out that window.
I knew it was irrational, and learned how to combat it- praising God, focusing on Him and the truth in specific scriptures, reading Psalms, etc. And God took away my fear. I saw how the devil had tried to attack my emotions and get me to live in fear. But if you resist him, he will flee from you. About a month ago, the fear started coming back again. Only during the dark at night as I lay in my bed trying to fall asleep- the thoughts would come. It was another stint of maybe a week or so, and then God had the victory in my mind again as He helped me refocus it on the truth.
But last week Jacob told me a story of how he'd had a dream Sunday night that he was walking in the countryside at night and was surrounded by a group of guys who beat him up severely. He woke up sweating and panting, and then had a vision of an old man telling him that he would receive a call from an unknown number and not to answer it, it was part of an evil scheme from the devil. And sure enough, the very next day he got a bunch of phone calls from the same unknown number, then texts later from it saying to call it back, he was waiting for his call. When he tried calling the number from my phone, it was disconnected. Yet it continued calling his. The next day, a different unknown number called his other phone all day. He told me a couple stories of the things satan does in the dark out here. Kinda freaky stuff- because of the voodoo, satan has a stronghold and power in this country. But the thing that really struck me from the whole conversation was Jacob's fearlessness. He knows his enemy, but he knows his God, who is much more powerful.
I was tempted again to be scared that night thinking about it, but realized I could control where I let my thoughts run. I prayed instead, and I asked God to make me fearless like Jacob and the disciples I've been studying in Acts, only to find myself pacing the hallway 2 nights later, a scared little girl, over a spider. As I paced, I realized that God was allowing this spider incident to help further highlight this fear issue and help me begin to conquer it in Him. I realized that if God wants to use me and the team He will call here to be a part of taking this town and this country for Jesus Christ, we are going to be going straight up against the powers of satan and darkness. We are in a war, and we wrestle not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). If we are going to take ground from the enemy, it is going to get scary at times I bet. I feel a million miles from being ready for that. I feel scared of that whole realm right now. But I want to grow. I want to be bold as a lion, fearless, walking strong in the authority and victory of Jesus Christ. To snatch children and souls from satan's grasp. To let the Light in me shine so brightly that the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).
I would like to report that I went back into my room, faced my fears, and killed the spider, but I didn't. He lived that night, probably snoozing under my bed. I didn't have any more courage the next night either when he showed his hairy self again on my wall. But praise the Lord, when I ran out of the room Yvrose was there and came and killed him for me. God will continue to work on me. Although hopefully not through any further tarantula incidents for awhile... :)
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (or spider in this case...)