As I was gong to perform my first baptism on the mission I stepped onto the first step of the baptismal font and saw a scorpion next to my foot.        

     Ironically while changing in the dressing room after the last baptism of my mission, I looked down and saw a giant balck scorpion half-way up my leg.   I guess Satan works in a lot of different ways.( ha  ha)    

 Right as we were about to invite a lady to be baptized we saw a scorpion crawling down her wall and was about to step onto her shoulder.  With out any warning my companion lurched forward toward her head and smashed it with his scriptures.  She screamed because he was calmly teaching about baptism and then lunged at her.  After she saw the smashed scorpion she understood–it was really a funny scene.   

 In my first area to get to the remote houses of investigators we had to climb a steep jungle trail.  Over head every few yards were these massive cobwebs, each web nesting about 30-40  black widows.  Everyday I had to walk right under hundreds of black widow spiders.  Let’s just say I loved the people.   

      

Speaking of spiders I still remember the shock of waking up and studying with my companion and a huge tarantula darting out from under my bed.  

     We called the Bolivian girls that would try to flirt with us snakes.  Once as I was teaching a discussion, a girl snuck up behind me bent her head around and kissed me square on the lips.  I jumped up and turned tomato red.  While on the subject of snakes, as we were teaching a man, his little daughter screaming” vibora vibora” immediately he snached his machete and cut the head off of a coral snake. (very poisonous) He gave it to me and I made a belt of the skin. 

 

     While my companion and I were on splits,  As I was walking home for the night I almost tripped over a boa constrictor.  I lifted it up and carried it back to our appartment.   Since we had arrived before my companion, I placed the boa under his bed.  Conveniently it was April fools day in Bolivia.   He got a good scare…..and well after all he had put me through he deserved it.   

Elder Tuft was an extremely tall companion of mine.  For some reason parrots would often land on his shoulder or head.  I guess they thought he was a tree.  One day a parrot landed on his shoulder and did its business all over his clean white shirt.  After changing to his last white shirt we left our apartment  and within 10 minutes another parrot and landed on him and graced him with another bird dropping all over his shirt.  I laughed harder than I had ever laughed in my life.  He was very discouraged even the birds scorned his message.        

     While washing dishes outside with well water, we witnessed  a little Bolivian boy get run over full speed by a motorcycle.  It was a hit and run.   We ran over to him.  I picked him up and cradled him like a baby and jumped on the back of a motorcycle taxi with him in my arms and after a lot of sobbing and pointing we ended up at his little mud house.  We left him there with his sisters.   To our excitement two months later the little boy recognized us and shouted at his parents these are the gringos that saved my life.  They invited us in.  We taught and baptized his two sisters one of which was nun.   Later the rest of the family was baptized. 

On another occasion, after dark we were in the middle of a candle light discussion when we heard a loud groaning for help.  A long haired  drunk man was staggering toward us.  He had just been robbed, and stabbed by a gang. He was bleeding and naked.  I wrapped my tie around his leg to stop the bleeding and we hoisted him on our shoulders and carried him to the hospital about a mile away.   With out any anethesia we watched him scream in that unsanitary hospital as they stitched him up.  That night we left him with the investigators we had been teaching before going to the hospital.  When we came back to teach them another discussion, he and the whole family we had been teaching requested baptism.  The Lord works in amazing ways. 

 Often times as service projects we would dig 15-18 foot deep pits for people for there bathroom uses.  (pit stop) Once while down about 15 feet with my shovel, some of the natives above started yelling at me to get out of there as a very poisonnous lizard had fallen in there with me.  It was too deep for me to climb out so I tried to dodge it until they could get a rope.  Freaky.   

   To close this blog entry, I have to share two short large toad stories.  When I first had gotten to Bolivia I was taking a shower and looked down to see an enormous toad by my foot.  I jumped.  A couple days later I was teaching a second discussion to a shirtless man.  As I started talking about faith, he lunged at me and grabbed a huge toad next to my foot.  Then like a shotput he lobbed it 150 feet into the jungle and we heard a splat.  “Continue” he said  It was hilarious.  

More fun Bolivia adventures to come….   

Advertisements

Every month we had to take a 14 hour bus trip to get to the city.  Many adventures happened on these trips .  Including bus raids,  an old Bolivian lady falling asleep and using me as a pillow, the bus tipping over while I was in it.   

  

I will never forget the time when the bus got stuck on the thick muddy jungle road and we went for 2 days without food or water waiting for someone to pull us out.   

In my first area at 3:00 am an incredible force hit our apartment sounding like a semi had crashed through the front of our house.  We ran outside to see something like this.

Aparently somehow 400 sticks of dynamite had blown up in the outskirts of town. Vaporizing all of the people living within a close radius and shattering all the windows in the town and and knocking down some of the typical mud houses.  “The explosion” as we all refered to it from then on was so traumatic the kids stopped talking, and people were afraid to go outside.  We gave many priesthood blessings at that time.   

Then there was that time while we were waiting to board the plane at the airport and it  suddenly caught fire.

The thing that was unnerving is that soon after they put it out we boarded that very plane.  I was terrified the whole time.  Turbulence hit hard so I opened my scriptures because I wanted to be reading the scriptures when I died.  I let the book fall open to see where it would land and to my discomfort the verse I read said “And they fell to the Earth”  I thought “this Book of Mormon is too true.” 

When I was transfered to the jungle, we lived by candle light and drank water from a well–hence the Ameoba and the kidney infection.  The first night we were there, my Bolivian companion lit a candle as we had noelectricity, kneeled down for companionship prayer, and started saying a prayer to Mary.  I was shocked and a little freaked out.  Then he started laughing really hard (practical joke)    

   

After those adventures I managed to have some insect lay eggs in my leg.  Where they treated me by having my companion hold me down as the doctor lanced my leg with a knife. and then squeezed them (the yellow eggs) all out–excruciating.    

A few months later, I noticed that my toenail was shrinking and I had not cut it.  I asked a member who had been a nurse to look at it.  Immediately she said “you have a newa”  A little black insect that usually lives on mangie dogs got into my shoe through the sand that the dog rolled in and then proceeded to burrow into my toe and made himeself at home.  She got a knife and started digging a hole in my toe until it reached the bone then pulled out the little newa.    So if anyone wants to come to our house sometime, apparently I am an excellent host.          

     I served a mission in Bolivia 1997-1999.  At the end of my mission my mission president showed me the record of each parasite that I had the pleasure of hosting.  It was two pages long.  I’m not sure if Giardia or the Ameoba was my favorite of the many.  This is a classic picture of what it was like in the jungle of Bolivia. 

We would cut down huge leaves from the rain forest with our machetees and drag into town to help make roofs for houses.     

       All the roads were dirt, so they would get very muddy.  When it rained—(almost every day) it poured!   About half the time it reached my waist and on one occasion it reached my chest.  When it would get really deep I was always afraid of the aligators and piranas floating in from the flooded river and creating missionary soup of us.        

Then there was the rush of taking off in an airplane from a muddy runway, but that was nothing compared to taking a motorcycle taxi riding at breakneck speeds in 2 ft deep water while giving a mini discussion to the driver.    

   
 Speaking of floods I remeber the time the flood destroyed the bridge that was on the only road to my area 14 hours away, so we had to improvise.  Since the road was untraversable, train tickets were all sold out, so we had to take a taxi to a remote place where we had heard the train stopped sometimes.  It was about midnight and pitch black when the train finally came.  The train did stop for about 20 seconds in which time we climbed aboard as stowaways in between two train cars.  The train started going before my companion was aboard, so he started running alongside the train, grabbed my hand and I pulled him up.   
Since we were between the two train cars I had to stand up for the 16 hour ride straddling the pole. 

     

When we got to a tiny town about 1 1/2 hours away from our area we jumped off the train taking the chance that somehow we could make it the rest of the way.  We saw a truck and asked the driver if we could pay him to take us to Camiri, our area.  We climbed into the back of his truck where there were several bags of cocaine leaves.