Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Family!

 I honestly don't even know where to begin to explain this week. It has honestly been the most ridiculous week of my mission and probably my life. I have never been in more stressful situations over the course of a week than I was in this week just passed. Having said that though looking back I can see the hand of the Lord so prominently displayed in my life this week. First of all let me say that now Sister Vasi and I are completely fine and safe so there is no need to worry but I have to tell you this story because of how crazy it is.

   First of all let me back track and tell you that about three weeks ago I got a phone call from Sister Doole in Rotorua informing me that someone had broken into their flat the night before. She explained that her and Sister Swindler were up late talking when all of the sudden the front door flew open and someone walked into their flat. After that they got up and made some noise and the person ran out but then they hung around the flat for a while. The sisters called their zone leaders and they told them to call the police and that they would be over as soon as they could. When the zone leaders got their they heard someone on one side of the flat so they ran over to see and they climbed up on the fence just in time to see a figure running away from the flat, across the park behind the flat, and get into a car and drive away. After this incident no one really seemed too worried about the fact that someone tried to attack the sisters. They thought they were just trying to break in an steel something but what they didn't consider is that the flat is so junky that there isn't anything inside to steel. Since then the sisters have just been waiting in fear for them to come back or for something else to happen. 

  At the beginning of the week I got a blessing from one of the elders and in the blessing he said "You will be protected throughout the rest of your mission and you will return home to see your family again."  and I didn't think anything of it. Well Sister Vasi and I went on exchanges in Rotorua with the sisters on Wednesday and I was so excited. First of all I was going to be with Sister Doole again and Sister Swindler (my MTC companion that I still absolutely love) and I was going back home to Rotorua. I was so ready for an exciting exchange but not one as exciting as what we experienced. We arrived at the flat around 9 and Sister Swindler was making cookies and so the inside of the flat was really hot so she opened one of the windows above the sink. When we were unpacking the car I was shocked to realize that for the first time ever I forgot our air mattresses. Now I absolutely hate sleeping on the floor and so I ALWAYS make sure that we have the air mattresses but for some reason this time I forgot. I remembered however that the flat had an extra mattress because of when I was in a trio with Sister Gunnell and Sister Vea and I came up with a plan that Sister Vasi would sleep on the couch and the three of us would sleep on the three mattresses and we would just pull them into the living room. We set up our beds and then at 10:30 it was lights out. As we were laying down to go to sleep I jokingly said "Well if the robbers come back tonight they'll be in for a shock because there will be four of us here and Sister Vasi will beat them up." We laughed at that and the other sisters agreed that Sister Vasi looked pretty tough.  Now because I was with two of my favorite missionaries in the mission of course we didn't go right to sleep. We had a lot of catching up to do and soon we realized that we had been talking for an hour and it was now 11:30. Around this time as we were just laying there talking we heard a very loud and distinct noise outside the back of the flat. Sister Swindler sat up a bit in her bed and said "Shh! Did you hear that?" and we all agreed we had heard something. A couple of seconds after we first heard to noise the motion sensor light turned on outside and it scared us all so bad. Now this happened really fast and in my head I thought quickly "Calm down it was probably just the dog." Now right after I thought this too myself all of the sudden the loudest noise came from the kitchen window above the sink and at first I thought someone had thrown something through the window. At this point I knew we were in trouble and I had no idea where our phone was and I was so scared that I figured the only thing that could save us was if I screamed as loud as I could to wake the neighbors up to come save us. Sister Doole and Sister Swindler thought the same thing and they too screamed as loud as they could. Finally after a few seconds of this screaming we got our bearings and Sister Swindler jumped up and turned on the light. She walked over to the sink and she realized that the loud crashing noise we had heard was this metal motel sign that had fallen out of the window into the metal sink below. At this point she was trying to say that the wind blew it down because she realized that she had left the window open. I was still convinced that someone had been out there and so Sister Vasi being the tough person that she is, decided that her and Sister Swindler were going to go outside and check things out. Now I know this wasn't the smartest thing to do but we thought that if someone was out there that they were probably just after the bikes so we didn't realize how dangerous it was for them to leave the flat. Sister Vasi grabbed a frying pan (yes a frying pan) and Sister Swindler grabbed the fly spray (to use a pepper spray if she needed it) and they walked out the flat and started to look around the side of the flat that the kitchen window is on. At first they didn't see anything and we were trying to convince ourselves that nothing really had happened and that it was just a string of coincidences. Inside the flat I was looking at the window and the way the sign had fallen seemed interesting to me because in the six months that I lived in that flat that thing had never once fallen over no matter how windy it was and it wasn't even very windy that night. Then I realized that the window had been open but there is a piece of fabric covering it so that is why we didn't see that we had left it open. Then it hit me that someone had reached their hand through the window but because of the fabric they didn't see the metal sign and so they hit it and it fell over and we screamed so they ran off. 

  After the Sisters concluded that they weren't going to be able to find anyone they came back into the flat and we turned the lights off and laid back down and stopped making noise. We wanted to just be quiet and see if anyone came back to prove whether or not someone was really out there. After about ten minutes of nothing happening we heard noises again outside the back of the flat. Sister Swindler and Sister Vasi watched out the kitchen window where they could see the bikes to see if that's what they were after but they never saw anyone. The noises were getting louder out the back of the flat so Sister Swindler quietly walked to the back bedroom of the flat and looked out the window and when she did she saw a black figure climb over the back fence and she yelled "Go now Sister Vasi!" so they ran back outside and ran around the flat to the back fence where they saw a car packed behind the park. They then ran around to the other side of the flat to get a better look but by the time they got there they car was gone. After that we realized that this was serious and that they weren't after the bikes but that they were trying to find another way into the flat. Sister Vasi and Sister Swindler also realized how incredibly dumb it was for them to be running around outside the flat and so they decided to come back in and not go out again no matter what. Throughout this whole experience we were debating on whether or not to call the police because the Sisters felt that the first time no one believed them and that the police didn't do anything. I know this was also dumb but we decided not to call anyone and just wait it out to see if they would try anything else. So for a third time we laid down and turned off the lights and remained quiet. About fifteen minutes later we heard noises again and this time we were so quiet that we could hear the people outside talking to each other. They just walked around the flat for a while but they didn't try again to get in. After a while I guess they gave up and they eventually left. If they had tried to get in again we would have called the police but since they didn't we decided to deal with it in the morning. 

   This was so scary though that it took us all forever to fall asleep. I think it was about 4 am before I could calm myself down enough to sleep. Well anyway the next morning we tried to explain what had happened last night but there were just too many occurrences to deny the fact that something had happened. The worst part for me was the feeling I had had during this whole experience. I think from the moment I heard the sign fall out of the window that I knew who ever was messing with us was evil and that their intentions were sinister. We tried not to admit that so we went throughout the day as if nothing had happened and we had a really good exchange. To end the night all four of us ended up and the Chrisohoou's home because they were some of my favorite members in Rotorua. As we were visiting with them we started telling them what had happened the night before and as we were telling him Brother Chrisohoou started to say things like "Oh Sisters this is bad." and "You can't stay there another night." Now Brother Chisohoou is a fully active member but he has a really rough past and so he knew the seriousness of what was happening and he seemed generally worried. As we were telling him this we started to admit to ourselves how bad it was last night and we realized the seriousness of the situation. For the first time since the first incident the sisters felt like someone finally believed them. As we left their house to go home that night we all had a really uneasy feeling and when we got back to out flat all four of us had the distinct impression not to go into the flat but to get back into the car. We got back into the car and then said a prayer and then we all knew that they were waiting there for us and so I jammed the car in reverse and drove away. We drove over to the park where we had seen a parked car and there was no one in the parking lot but as we drove our headlights reflected off of something shiny in the bushes down by the fence behind the flat and we realized that it was a license plate of a car so we drove back to the Chrisohoou's house and told them what was going on. Brother Chrisohoou called another priesthood brother and they went and checked out the the flat. Now to end the rest of the story they didn't find anything but they too had a really bad feeling so they followed us home and then blessed the flat. By this time it was 11:30 at night. As they were leaving, the land lords (members) came out and wanted to talk because they were mad at us for not telling them anything so we then spent the next thirty minutes trying to calm them down and that is another story for another day but it just added to the ridiculousness of the whole situation. 

   In the end they moved the elders into the sisters flat and the sisters into the elders flat the next day so the sisters didn't have to spend another night in the flat and it was a good thing they did because the creeps came back but didn't do anything because they realized that men were now in the flat and not sisters. Scary right. I know what they were after and now I can't even believe that we went through that that night. I can see the Lord's hand in this situation protecting us though more than in any situation of my life so far. One thing is there was no reason why I forgot the air mattresses because I NEVER forget them but I did. If we had brought them we would have slept in the room and the creeps would have gotten into the flat through the window and then we would have been trapped. I am just so thankful that we were protected. 

  Now to top off the week we barely made it safely home to Whakatane because of the rain and all Friday it rained and rained and rained some more. In fact it rained so much that it flooded! That's right we had a flood. Our back yard turned into a swimming pool and the front yard and street looked like a lake. It was the craziest thing. Luckily our house is build up high so the water didn't get in but it caused so many problems around town and we almost got stuck driving our car a few times. Sister Vasi and I walked around in the flood water outside our flat and it was under our knees as we tried to save this stranded cat and help our old lady neighbor. Along with the rain there was the most amazing lightening storm I have ever seen and it knocked out the power throughout town. That was another night we didn't sleep because we were so afraid that our flat was going to flood. It rained and rained and rained. Luckily they got the flood gates open in time and the water drained out before our flat flooded. We are so grateful for that. 

  All in all we went three nights with virtually no sleep, took on creeps trying to break into our flat, and survived our first flood. The only word I can use to describe this week ridiculous. But we had out miracles along the way and the work is still moving forward in our area and we are finally getting our investigators to progress. I am excited to work hard this week and leave all of the bad stuff behind. As a missionary I am so blessed and I have seen the protection that comes from my Heavenly Father. I love and miss all of you. Please don't worry about me because I am fine. I love you!

Sister Simkins

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