Monday, March 30, 2015

Ants, cockroaches, bed bugs and rats—read if you dare!

First came the ants. All over our kitchen, covering our bathroom floor, tunnelling through our fridge and throwing a giant fiesta in what I thought was a perfectly sealed container of sugar. I've learnt that sometimes it's easier to just go ahead and eat the extra protein rather than trying to scoot them out.

Then came the cockroaches. Running up our bedroom wall and scurrying across our floor. Then one day I found one on my bar of soap. Well, at least I know he's a clean little beast! Upon seeing this sight I immediately messaged my ultra-hygienic sister and let her know when she comes to visit she won't even need to pack a bar of soap, after all if I can share with a cockroach I can certainly share with family. I've learnt that the best way to get rid of a cockroach is to grab the broom, act like a Canadian, and shoot him out the door like a hockey puck. After all, if you squash them you have to clean up their guts and my sister's boyfriend claims that even if you cut one in half they can still live (despite numerous opportunities I have yet to test this theory). And besides, I count myself blessed because I've never had one stuck inside my mosquito net yet.

Next it was time for me to meet my biggest fear. For years I have been petrified of bed bugs. The very thought of them is utterly disgusting. Every year I would sit and cringe during bed bug training at the University of Ottawa and pray I would never ever have to deal with them! I was certain that if ever I encountered them I would crumble into a puddle of tears and crippling fear. Then I went to a missions training school in Northern Mozambique where our room was utterly infected with bed bugs. Scratching at the bites all over my arms, I began to laugh. What I thought would be one of the worst experiences in the world suddenly became quite comical. And in that moment God said to me, "if you can learn to laugh at this, you can laugh at anything." In an effort to rid our room of these horrific creatures, I scoured the Internet for any useful bit of information. All websites repeated one common thread: do not under any circumstance believe that you can tackle bed bugs on your own—hire an exterminator. Unfortunately all of these websites are written by westerners who have never lived in a developing nation and can not fathom what to do when there is no exterminator to call!

Finally, we had a new uninvited guest come to live with us. Late one night, Evan awoke to a scratching noise. As he crawled out of bed to see what it was, he quickly jumped back to a 5 inch rat running across our floor. Over the next few days and failed attempts at rat poison, we would find him running through our house. Once again, I couldn't help but laugh. You see, growing up my mother was petrified of rats. Though fear is often inherited, for me it had the opposite effect. Although I find mice and rats rather gross, I can't help but laugh. Perhaps God has been preparing me for this life for far too many years.

Well if the rat that was running around didn't bother me too much, his trail did. Everyday Evan and I would clean his droppings and chewings and bleach down surfaces. A great excuse for spring cleaning in the girls area. Days later I noticed the rat had also nibbled on my soap. Oh well, at least I know his teeth were clean! We litterally pulled out every bag of girls clothing in an efforts to find the beast.

All this and I haven't even had time to discuss mango flies, ring worms, head lice, bats, geckos, spiders....

All and all, I am repeatedly reminded that God's grace is sufficient. Years ago I never would have thought I could laugh at such disgust. Somehow, on the other side of the world, and covered by his grace, I find myself more and more fearless as I find my strength and courage in him. As Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Critters and creepy crawlers may abound but God's presence abides. 

And it's really not all bad! Check out this super cool cameleon my neighbour found this week, I saw it change colour and everything! The Mozambicans and South Africans laughed out loud as I jumped up and down in excitement as I had never seen one in real life before. And as we laughed, we talked about how God gave the cameleon the ability to adapt to its environment and to protect itself. And with gratitude I conclude by thanking the Lord my God for the ability to adapt to a new country, to find joy and laugh in all circumstances, and for His protection over our lives. 

...Well Mom, aren't you glad you bought non-refundable flights to come and visit us!

1 comment:

  1. Ewwwww! I can't do bugs very well at all. I deal with mice when I cook in Dunham; actually I don't deal with it. I scream and then some men coming running to remove the dead rodent. Maybe I should read your verse more faithfully.