Thursday, 31 October 2013

beware of what you cannot see

We laugh a little now...a VERY little, at the naïve thinking we had about certain aspects of the Bahamas.  One obvious misunderstanding we had was the critter/bug population on this island of "paradise."  Staying at Cedric and Alexine's home both times we visited (our senior pastor and wife), we never saw more than some bees and "no see-um's".  But if you've ever seen their house, you'll understand why.  Critters can't get in.  It's a 3-storey home, high off the ground, and has very little "bush" on the property.  They also, for the most part, keep their windows shut.  Well...after living here for 16 full months, we can honestly say we've seen the good, bad, and the ugly of the animal kingdom here. 

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I am used to spiders, smallish snakes, mice, ants, get the idea.  The first time I ever saw a cockroach was on vacation in Myrtle Beach when I was a teen.  Soon after moving in here, I began seeing little black specks in my drawers: silverware drawer, linen drawer, cookware drawer.  Under the kitchen sink there seemed to be some sort of party of little black specks.  Then one day, a few weeks after moving in, I saw my first roach running across the floor.  I screamed and asked Keith to kill it.  Who was that woman?  I laugh now.  How many cockroaches have I killed?  Several dozen, I am sure.  Big ones, little get the picture.  My worst experience was having one crawl on my neck in bed at night.  As you can imagine, I screamed, threw on the lights and beat the bed sheets 'til it ran out.  It is an ongoing battle.  Even with an exterminator, there is really no insurance we won't have them.  They live in the sewage drains and climb up the pipes, which is why we find them often in rooms with sinks and tubs...I can only imagine what they are tracking in!

Ok, moving on.  Let's talk about snakes.  The girls had seen several little brown racer snakes on the property, which look like this:
Photo: google images

I also had seen one while putting the laundry out to dry.   But nothing could prepare me for the one I literally stepped over without seeing one hot July day.  A Bahamas' Boa Constrictor, about 6 feet in length and 3 inches in diameter.  He was soaking in the sun on my hot little cement side porch, tucked up under the door's threshold.  I stepped right over him, saw a flash behind me and there to my wondering eyes, was a snake just like this:


 Photo: google images

What's really amazing though is that just inches above this snake was my ripped screen door... In other words, one little poke, and this guy could've been in my house.  But God kept him out.  We realize the reason this snake was hanging out on our property is that there are numerous rats living under our porch, beneath the rock-scape out front, and of course, in and around the trash cans outside our gate.  This boa was merely following his instincts to rid the yard of pests.  I just wish he weren't quite so big and intimidating.

Which brings me to my next critter: the rat.  They make 'em bigger here.  Early on, our adopted Bahamian dog, Kali, seemed to enjoy pinning and killing these pests, but lately she's lost interest.  And the thing about the Bahamian rats is they aren't all that shy.  We now have 7 screens in our house in which rats have chewed holes...meaning, they have been inside the house.  Yikes.  I have seen the rats that climb through the kitchen screens.  Usually it happens at night, when we're sitting in the living room,  I will hear a ruckus and see a tail as the rat slinks back out of the hole in the corner of the screen.  But one night, we witnessed a real escapade.  As we were sitting on the couch talking, I heard a commotion in the dining room and all of a sudden a rat, airborne, plopped down on the rug in our entryway.  This thing had jumped down from the windowsill in the dining room, and across 6 feet of room, no easy feat!  This brings new meaning to the word "cheeky" I would say!
And finally, the pest I most fear: the tarantula.  Yes, this is the one I have feared most throughout my life.  Tarantulas are what I picture when I think "Amazon rain forest." I honestly never thought I would see one that wasn't behind glass at a zoo or a pet store.  I was wrong.  Not only did Keith have one climb up his leg while working on the yard (which, though at the time he didn't realize what he was swatting at, he killed successfully), but about two months ago, I got to have one of my very own under my bed.  It was 11:30 at night.  Keith was asleep on the couch, and I tried to wake him, saying, "I'm going to bed."  As I went in, realizing I still had some laundry to fold, I noticed a black shadow under the headboard by the bedside table.  I thought it might be a sock I dropped.  I walked away for a minute to see if it would move.  It did.  And this time, it's silhouette was obvious...tarantula.  I froze.  I called on the Lord.  I calmly went out and told Keith.  He wondered how he'd ever catch it or kill it.  With bug spray and broom in hand, he went in.  I stayed out in the living room, praying and trying not to worry as I heard the whacking sounds.  Finally Keith emerged, laundry basket in hand.  "I killed it.  Do you want to see it?  It's about twice the size of the one that crawled up my leg!"  Keith said.  "No thanks," I said.  I didn't want the image haunting me. 
It was a few nights before I could sleep in my bed.  And every night since, I check that same spot as I enter the room.  I wish I could say that my heart is settled when the sun goes down and darkness settles in on our yard and house.  But I continue to live with a keen awareness that critters are alive and well, and most likely lurking around the next corner. I don't think I've slept through the night once since the tarantula and cockroach episodes.  But God has kept me.  Where once I couldn't kill my own roaches, now I can...if I'm fast enough!  A degree of bravery. Keith recently included our critter experiences in a sermon he preached.  Our church could not believe the number of things: bugs, snakes, tarantulas...we have dealt with.  Without exception, NOT ONE of them has had this number of things happen to them in their entire lives here in Nassau, let alone within the course of only 3 months, as we have.  Some of them still aren't convinced I had a boa on my porch!
So as you think of us here, "in paradise," remember that we live in a place that crawls with critters.  Remember to pray for us.  Pray for our peace of mind.  Pray for our protection.  Pray that we simply would not have critters invade our house and property.  God can do that!  He's the only one who can.  And so we rest in His power.  We might be afraid of what we cannot see, but the God we worship sees it all and is never caught off guard.

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