I have a story to share…
The last two months have been a nightmare for us. I mentioned in my post “I’m Not As Sick As You Might Think” that our van, whom we affectionately call Baymax, had picked up some really problematic contamination. We even found some weird things growing inside the back doors.
We spent these last two months bouncing back and forth between hotel rooms and tent camping while trying to decontaminate the van. We took apart our bed. We threw things away. We wiped every square inch of the interior with microfiber over and over and over again. We ran an ozone generator for a total of over 30 hours.
With Baymax completely disassembled and uninhabitable, everything felt like chaos. At one point, we left our hotel to try camping in someone’s back yard only to find that as soon as the air conditioning unit came on, my health took a nosedive. We had to make a midnight escape (just like the good old times!). We ended up back in the same hotel. So much for saving money! The next morning we woke to the lovely scent of someone refinishing the furniture in all the rooms. The fumes were taking over the entire hotel. We had to flee again. It was exhausting!
We started out with a lot of hope that we’d be able to remediate the van and our efforts definitely improved the situation. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough. Whenever I had to spend time in the van, I could feel myself losing the resilience I’d worked so hard to gain.
In the first week of March we had to leave the small town we were staying in to find a more pristine place to camp. I was starting to decline and we needed to reverse that as quickly as possible. We found a delightful campground in a very remote area and I revived immediately. We stayed for four blissful days and nights. We almost forgot our problems. I felt strong again and was able to go hiking each day.
After getting so clear, my body reacted even more strongly to the van. We had to drive almost three hours to get back to civilization and I felt so ill! I had body pain, brain fog, bloating, nausea, depression, and a bad headache. After seeing how badly the van was affecting me, we decided to spend as much time as we could in that pristine area while we tried to figure out what to do next.
It was overwhelming. Should we keep cleaning? Should we keep trying new decontaminating agents? Should we risk using the more dangerous chemicals? Should we sell it and start over? What would we start over with? Another van? A small trailer? How would we make that transition? We felt stuck.
“The Lord Will Make A House for You”
I’ve been reading through the Bible since December and came to this passage in 2 Samuel 7 when we were first realizing how badly contaminated our van was.
2 Samuel 7: 10-11
I will also appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, that they may live in their own place and not be disturbed again, nor will the wicked afflict them any more as formerly, even from the day that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you.
When I read it, my jaw dropped. I was stunned.
Some preachers teach that we can claim any promise we find in the Scriptures to be our own and that our faith can compel God to give us whatever it is we’re claiming. I do not believe this. It’s not difficult to see that these promises were made to specific people at a specific time. God is not a vending machine. In this case, the beautiful promise was made to some very important players in God’s story, King David and the nation of Israel. There’s no way this is something any average person, like me, can claim for themselves.
Nevertheless, something inside me stirred when I read that passage. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I kept thinking: This is the God I serve. A God who builds houses for people. A God who gives people rest from affliction. I serve the very same God. What might He do for us?
The Little Wood Cabin
So, with guarded hopefulness, I urged Brett to ask people whether there were any rental houses available in the sparsely populated rural area surrounding our campground. It didn’t seem very likely that there would be anything available, but Brett decided to ask anyway. He found out there was a man who had a little wood cabin he could rent to us. A little wood cabin?! That sounded really promising! It was hard not to get our hopes up!
We drove down the road in nervous excitement, but when we saw the cabin our hearts sank. It wasn’t the little log cabin we were imagining. It was a cheap pre-fabricated home with a plywood ceiling, walls made of particle board and water-stained ceiling tiles. We were still sorely tempted. Maybe we can set up a tent in the yard? Maybe we can still camp full-time but use the “cabin” for water and power? We were desperate for some stability!
Thankfully, I got a very bad headache after being in there and the pain brought me to my senses. There was no way taking a moldy shed-like house was a good idea. The landlord told us he owned some other properties he was interested in selling but we told him we weren’t in a position to be buying a house.
Then, Spring Break bookings (that had been made in advance) kicked us out of our new favorite campground. We found another more primitive place to camp in the same area but two days later, rainclouds gathered ominously in the sky and strong winds started blowing up a lot of dust into our eyes and noses. Storms were coming! We packed up our tent and left to go back to civilization. Staying in a hotel seemed better than sleeping in the van.
It was a three hour drive, I felt miserable in the van, and we got caught in a hailstorm. The clouds were thicker and darker than we’d ever seen before. We were both in awe. We started having second thoughts. Did we make a bad decision? Why are we driving into this storm? Thankfully, an abandoned old gas station appeared just in time! We pulled under the shelter to protect the van and were soon joined by two other cars who found themselves in the same predicament.
When the hail stopped we continued our journey through heavy rain. It was cold. The contamination had cost us both our sweaters and we were shivering in our t-shirts, our arms covered in goosebumps. When we finally reached our destination the wind was so strong that it was hard to open the door and I had to hold onto my glasses so they wouldn’t fly off my face. We were really looking forward to the hot showers and warm bed that awaited us!
Instead, we were in for a rude awakening. While Brett was standing at the front desk, waiting to make our reservation the last available room was booked online. They recommended another hotel in town but it was already full. There was only one promising hotel left to try. Brett called them and they still had a room available. Yay! We booked it over the phone and headed there immediately.
When I walked in, the world destabilized before my eyes. I was so dizzy, I almost collapsed on the ground. It was brand new and very cheaply built. The scent of VOCs was overpowering and everything looked so cheap! We left immediately.
Then Brett called a hotel in a neighboring town to see if they had any rooms. They told him all the hotels in the entire town were full for spring break. We were out of options. We turned around to drive three hours back to our campsite. We wouldn’t get back until 1:00am.
We drove in silence. I wanted to cry. My whole body was in pain from being in the van so long. We needed a miracle. I asked friends and family to pray. I had been praying for deliverance for many weeks and things only seemed to be going from bad to worse. I didn’t think we could continue much longer without a safe living space and a tolerable vehicle. We felt worn out and defeated. We were getting close to our breaking point.
The Breaking Point
I did reach my breaking point a couple days later. The same thing we found growing inside the back doors of our van had started growing in the plastic tub we kept our tent in. Now even the tent was contaminated.
I felt so desperate that I just started weeping before God and praying fervently. I don’t normally pray like this. I actually don’t think I’ve ever prayed this fervently before. My typical shyness gave way to my desperation and the stories I had read in the Scriptures flooded my heart with the faith to pray boldly and specifically.
It seems almost irreverent to share the details of those honest prayers. Suffice it to say that, with many tears, I asked God to remember our afflictions and to restore us so that we could serve Him. I also asked him to provide a house for us. I made some very specific requests about the house: a house clear from mold in a pristine location, a refrigerator and freezer, clean running water, a toilet, a shower, some way for Brett to be able to work consistently, and a landline telephone (since cell phone radiation tends to affect me negatively).
I didn’t know if my prayers would be answered, but after I was done weeping my heart was still and I fell into a peaceful sleep.
The next morning we came up with a theory that blamed all the contamination in our van on our refrigerator. Maybe the fridge had mold in the fan and was spreading the contamination every time it turned on. Maybe, if we took the fridge out and cleaned the van one more time, everything would be okay. It turned out to be wishful thinking but I think we needed some false hope to get through that day.
That same morning, we found out that the man with the little wood cabin was willing to rent us one of his other properties. He had been trying to sell it for 10 years and a potential buyer had just decided not to buy it. I guess that experience prompted him to change his mind. We were so discouraged that we didn’t think much of it. The outside of the house didn’t look like anything special but we figured we should take a look at it just so we could scratch the possibility off the list. We made plans to go see it in the evening.
I spent the rest of the day researching options for getting another camper, just in case the fridge theory turned out to be wrong. A truck and trailer seemed like a better idea than another van. For one, having a safe space that is separate from the vehicle would make another catastrophic contamination event less likely. The safe space could stay in the good air even if Brett had to take the vehicle into some less ideal environments to get work done. But how much would it cost to get a truck and trailer? Can we even afford that? What trailer would we get? Where would we find it? My head was spinning and I didn’t know where to start.
That evening, we went to look at the house. I felt beat up and exhausted from having spent too much time in the van. I didn’t think I could handle another exposure, so I told Brett to go in by himself. He stepped in and I heard him say in wonder, “This is way cuter than I expected.” A few seconds later, he called for me to come in. When I stepped through the door, my mouth fell open. I was so surprised! This was the house I had prayed for the night before! We couldn’t stop exclaiming in amazement!
The floors are all concrete. The walls are adobe reinforced with concrete. The roof is all mental with no leaks. There’s no drywall, no washing machine, no HVAC system, no dishwasher and no carpet (all of which are risk factors for mold growth). There’s a toilet and a nice big concrete shower with no tiles or plastic. The water is spring water and all the locals rave about how wonderful it is. There’s a landline for a telephone. There’s internet but no cell phone service. The doors and windows are made of raw untreated wood. There’s a refrigerator and freezer. Plus, the house is 124 years old and it still feels amazing!
That night, we couldn’t stop smiling and thanking God. We were shocked. I never expected my prayers to be answered like this. I still can hardly believe it.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, And tell of His works with joyful singing.
Note: We are currently in the process of making a clean break so that we don’t risk contaminating the house with whatever ruined the van. We just sold the van and hired someone to sell the rest of our stuff. It was sad saying goodbye to Baymax since we almost felt like he was a character in our story. But we are so happy and excited about the house! We can’t wait to move in!
I’m sure people will want to know where the house is. For various reasons, I’ve decided to stop sharing details about our location publicly. Just generally, it’s in the southwestern United States. 🙂
This is so encouraging and exciting! What a testimony to the powerful and gracious God we serve. Love you tons!April 1, 2019 at 5:01 pm
Yes, it is! We are very excited! I love you too Stephie!❤️April 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm
So glad!! It was very encouraging for me too because I’ve been homeless for nine years and not a name it claim it type… 😘April 1, 2019 at 5:08 pm
I’m so glad it encouraged you Margaret! Nine years is a very long time. 💕April 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm
Wow! This story is amazing, Ana! We are so very thrilled for both of you!! I needed to hear this testimony! Some days it’s hard to believe that God hears and answers prayer! But the next time I doubt it, I’m going to think of your wonderful story!! Thank you for sharing!! Love you guys! Amen for God’s providential care ! ❤April 1, 2019 at 5:17 pm
It is hard to believe. I struggled so much with this. I’m glad our story encouraged you!April 1, 2019 at 7:32 pm
This is really wonderful news. You are such a great storyteller; I felt myself holding my breath waiting for the next event to unfold. God is always good. So grateful for you to see it in this obvious way. Thank you for taking the time to write this and share.April 1, 2019 at 5:24 pm
Aww… thank you for your kind words! He really is good.April 1, 2019 at 7:33 pm
Praying this is long term solution. Praying for you Ana.April 1, 2019 at 5:24 pm
Thank you so much Jennifer! We are hoping and praying for this too.April 1, 2019 at 7:34 pm
Wow — this is an amazing story! I’ve been following along since the beginning almost, and I’ve been praying for you and your health, and I *think* I’ve commented on here before…but anyways. I always look forward to reading what God has done in ya’lls lives. There’s so much that could cause you to despond….but you always have a way of turning my thoughts towards the mighty God we serve! This story of His faithfulness towards ya’ll is amazing to read, and prayerfully it will be a haven of rest for you for many months to come!
Thank you for being so willing to share the Lord’s provisions and your amazing journey with all of us 😀April 1, 2019 at 5:57 pm
Thank you so much Kaitlyn. It’s really encouraging to hear how you’ve been praying and following along.April 1, 2019 at 7:35 pm
This is great, Ana! Do we get to see any indoor shots at least of your new cute place?April 1, 2019 at 7:17 pm
Thank you Holly! Yes, hopefully when we move in. We don’t have any shots of the inside yet. 😊❤️April 1, 2019 at 7:36 pm
Amazing, Ana! Thanks so much for sharing this. It encourages me to pray specifically and ask the Lord to meet our needs. My current specific request is that our whole family will be healthy enough to attend church together. It seems far out of reach, but God tells us to ask him and that he is a good Father.April 1, 2019 at 7:21 pm
Yes! Keep on praying. He’s a good Father. ❤️April 1, 2019 at 7:36 pm
Congratulations! What an odyssey! Praying that the Lord continues to meet your needs! So encouraging. What an answer to prayer! Now I’m praying for reliable transportation! Stay healthy!April 1, 2019 at 8:40 pm
Thank you so much Mary!April 2, 2019 at 2:46 pm
Beautiful crazy life! That’s what I call it, as we travel through our own adventures, day by day, walking in God’s grace (because how else could we?). So happy about this house for you, Brett & Ana! Praying for you, my friends, that stability comes with answered prayers, and that your body is able to rest after so much running down, Ana. *virtual hugs*!April 1, 2019 at 10:56 pm
Yes! Thank you so much Ruth! 💕April 2, 2019 at 2:48 pm
I’m crying. How wonderful for you Anna!April 2, 2019 at 1:29 am
It’s encouraging to know that your heartfelt prayer was answered.
I’m sure there’s a house somewhere for me and all the other people in our position.
Your post has encouraged me to not give up, because I had.
I’m so glad to hear this Patricia! Please don’t give up! Keep fighting. Much love to you! ❤️April 2, 2019 at 2:49 pm
I am beyond happy for you two. Tears in my eyes. God is amazing! You are so right.. only he can pull something like this off. Thank you so much for sharing this story. Gosh.. thanks so much for the hope injection :). I hope it blesses you both for eons!April 2, 2019 at 7:12 am
Thank you so much for your kind words Brian! God IS amazing! We are praying for you! ❤️April 2, 2019 at 2:53 pm
Hi Ana, I’m sobbing while reading this. I’m 23 now, but became exposed to black mold in 2016, and have been sick ever since. I’ve detoxed the mold but now I’m sensitive to everything. VOCs, perfumes, slightly old houses, new cars, you name it. My doctors found positive results for Lyme disease and they think that I may have had it for a long time but it the black mold exposure is what triggered an autoimmune reaction and set it in motion. I live in Florida with my husband. I can’t work, I can barely take online classes, I have no life. My mother-in-law has been sending me your posts for months now and I finally got around to reading them. I’m falling apart reading about your nomad life for the past two months, I understand that so much. You can check out my story at @lifeaslynn.z on instagram, or http://www.lifeaslynn.com. I would love to email with you and ask you about how you made it through all of this. I’m sick of the “I took celery juice and now I’m healed” or “I meditated 15 times a day and now I’m fine.” The only people I know who’ve recovered enough to live a normal human life are people who’ve moved to cleaner climates. I’m torn between trying to completely avoid mold or trying to heal without running away from the city. I’m afraid that complete avoidance will just make me sicker when I try to reenter normal spaces, but at the same time, laying in bed for days on end is not a life. I’d rather live in the desert with no neighbors and no normal “stability” and be healthy than live with this any longer.April 7, 2019 at 5:09 pm
I am praying for you Jaime!June 12, 2019 at 4:54 am
If you get a chance, could you share what that cement shower looks like? Very curious. We built one cement shower now, but I love seeing others for ideas. The vastness of the internet is surprisingly short of cement shower photographs. ha!April 8, 2019 at 11:42 am
Thank you for your beautiful writing…
Saw the Newsies play the other day and these lyrics made me think of you.
So here’s how it goes once we win
And we will be winning
Make no mistake
We’ll be what?
We’re already winning
I feel like on your bad days you could be discouraged Jack and Brett could be persistent Davey and on his bad days he could be Jack and you could be Davey. 😉 But I do believe that you will be winning. <3
Alert: If you go to listen to the song, the broadway version has bad words.April 8, 2019 at 1:46 pm
This is amazing! God is so good! I am so happy for you guys!
While I as reading this I thought of these two verses!
‘Weeping my stay for the night.
But rejoiceing come in the morning.’ – Psalms 30:5b
‘Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see.’ – Hebrews 11:1April 9, 2019 at 11:34 am
How has the first month in your new home gone?May 6, 2019 at 3:55 am
What a beautiful answer to prayer, Ana! How long do you foresee staying in this wonder house???May 13, 2019 at 1:57 pm
I haven’t checked in to this blog in a while. The last I recall you had done mold avoidance, felt better and were moving into an apartment. I guess that didn’t work out and you built a van? How did the entire van get mold contaminated?
I find this post and story scary and depressing. Fleeing hotels and campgrounds and apartments and vans. There’s no indication the new cottage will work tho maybe it will. And then what? It sounds isolated. How will you work, go to school, raise a family, and participate in society?June 16, 2019 at 3:31 am