Friday, February 24, 2012

Pesky Little Critters

When someone says, "Africa" what comes to your mind?

Probably animals - giraffes and the like.

Or maybe you think of all the scary little critters that probably make their abode here. I'm guessing a lot of people think of snakes, and while snakes do live in Africa, I honestly haven't seen that many in over 7 years of living here. I dare say someone who lives out in the western United States has seen way more snakes than we've seen here in rural, Bambili.

I'm sure spiders would probably cross your mind as well. And yes, we do have a lot of spiders. My kids know me well though, they always tell me, "But mom - you like the spiders, don't you!" And I answer, "Yes I do!" Spiders eat all the other critters that I don't want in my house - like roaches for instance. Spiders don't bother me at all.

Of all the little critters that find their home here in Cameroon, however, this is the one I hate the most:
Maybe you just screamed when you saw that picture...I know I stifled a squeal when I saw them on my parlor floor! It was actually Faith Ann who found them first. Kate and I were working in the kitchen one Sunday night, and Faith came in and said, "Mommy! There is a mouse on the floor." I was like...huh? Really? She seemed a little too calm for her to be saying that. I mean, if I'd just seen a mouse, I'd be screaming in the parlor...not running in the kitchen to tell someone first. So, Kate and I were a little doubtful, but walked to the parlor to see what she was talking about. Lo and behold, there was this tiny, hairless creature scooting it's way blindly across the floor. Yep...a mouse had just had babies. Ewww!!! Fortunately for us, I guessed that we had killed Mama mouse the night before and that is why baby mice were on the move. They were probably hungry and looking for their next meal. (Kinda sad when I put it like that.)

So, I disposed of the babies in the trash can outside. It was a little sad, but I kept reminding myself that little baby mice grow up to be big mice, and big mice can do a LOT of damage.

For example, here is one of the girl's quilts that their Grandma made for them:
It was almost as if this mouse methodically chewed each thread to take out all those seams. Most of the seams look like a seam ripper was taken to them. Wierd!

I'm not sure if it was this same mouse, or another mouse, but one of them had a fetish with plastic toys. At first I found them on the floor of the parlor with body parts chewed off (Eeyore lost his face). Then, on the night we found the baby mice (one of them was actually still inside the fire place trying to crawl out) I discovered these guys:
Yeah, one of these crazy mice actually dragged Prince Charming and a Littlest Pet Shop into the fireplace! Craziness! So far I've only rescued Prince Charming. He was near the front and I'm happy to report, he is in tact. I'm sure Cinderella will be happy that her love isn't maimed in any way. I've yet to discover how Faith Ann's little ostrich is faring.

So, as you can see, mice are destructive. Very destructive! They not only ruined one of Grandma's quilt, they also ruined one of Great Nana's quilts. They ruined many of the kids toys and just caused an overall big mess with mouse droppings everywhere. The first week here was spent trying to eradicate our mouse problem and cleaning up after the messy things!

The first part of the week, I put down those mouse glue pads. They usually work quite well, and so I figured if I laid enough around, I'd surely catch these mice. The first night we did in fact catch one. After that, however, they kept avoiding those pads...or escaping from them. One night I knew one of the mice had been stuck, because he left behind the end of his tail! That is when I decided to get serious.

Many years ago (probably 5 or 6) I'd purchased a product to kill mice - The Rat Zapper. I will shamelessly put in a plug for this amazing product.

When I first bought it, I set it up outside and just knew I'd catch a ton of mice! After a few nights of no kills, I was extremely disappointed in the product and it sat on the floor, at the back of my pantry for literally years. Well, at this point I am desperate to get rid of these mice, so I put batteries in my zapper and tested it with a metal screwdriver to see if it still worked and we set it in the kitchen that night and baited it with pancakes. Imagine my excitement the next morning when the red light was blinking on the top of the device, indicating a kill! Yippee!!! However, this mouse still had its tail intact. I knew there was another. We set it up again the next night, baiting it the same way. WooHoo!! Two for two! And this one was missing part of his tail!! And then finally, the same Sunday night that we caught the baby mice, I walked through the parlor late - at 11 p.m. - and saw a mouse scurry across the parlor floor and into the fire place. I went and grabbed my zapper and set it right outside the fireplace, this time baiting it with pizza dough. Sure enough - first thing in the morning the red light was blinking again. 3 for 3!! I'm not sure why I didn't catch any mice with it when I first bought it. Maybe I put it in an area where there was no mouse traffic. But even after it had been sitting through major climate changes for about 6 years - the electronics in it still worked like a charm!

So, I'm happy to report that as far as I know - we are mouse free. :) I discovered the hole that the mice had chewed in one of the door frames that was allowing them free entrance into our home. Ben filled that with cement and I think we are good to go. I am not worried however, since I know my Rat Zapper does the trick...and on top of that, we should be getting a new kitty within a week or so which we are all (especially the kids) excited about!
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Friday, February 17, 2012

We're Back!

How does one sum up an entire 7 months in just one blog post. I'm not sure! But, I'm going to try and at least give the highlights.

My last post from my old blog was just days away from our furlough. It highlighted our amazing netcaster's seminar. It was definitely a busy time - I was attempting to pack up the house while Ben was working so hard in Bamenda, but we got everything ready and were able to leave for Douala on July 7. We actually traveled with a group from the Netcaster's team, which was a lot of fun.

Just getting out of the airport was an answer to prayer. Days before we left, we applied for our 10 year residence cards. We were told that the kids didn't need anything, but when we got to the airport and tried to go through security, they went round and round with us about not having exit visas for the kids (just another way for them to make money). We went to the police commissioner's office located in the airport and the kids and I stood outside and prayed...HARD! The Lord answered and that man let us fly that night even though we should have purchased an exit visa for each of our 4 kiddos. In the future, we will buy one whether we need it or not! I was never so happy to get on a plane! It was late and Faith and Emma crashed as soon as we got on. I had no idea that our flight had a quick one hour hop to another African country until we got on there, but it did! We landed somewhere in Africa (I can't even remember now) and the entire flight crew changed over! I'd never seen that happen. A whole cleaning crew got on the plane and vacuumed and cleaned seats and bathrooms. I was frustrated b/c I didn't want Emma and Faith to wake up with all the commotion. Can you believe they slept through all of that! Most of the plane reboarded with new passengers and a new flight crew and we were off to Brussels. The flights were crazy long, but we finally made it to Chicago. We had a long enough layover to meet Ben's parents at McDonalds in the O'Hare airport before hopping on our last leg to Atlanta.

My Dad and brother, Jason, picked us up in two van's. Jay emptied all the seats out of his van for our luggage and the kids and I piled into my Dad's van for the ride home. Most of the kids were asleep before we even left the parking garage! haha! Two hours later we arrived home - Home was a beautiful house that God provided for us for our furlough. I've never lived in a house that nice in the states before! A family in our church moved onto a new ministry in Florida and put their house up on the market. They came to my mom about us living there during our furlough. God ALWAYS provides for us and it is always so exciting to see how he does it! We walked into an adorable home that my mom and dear friend, Beth, worked so hard to decorate and furnish for us. Many of our friends let us borrow furniture so that we had a home to live in! It was wonderful! And so our furlough began!

Much of our furlough was devoted to traveling. This furlough Ben made many of the trips alone. I visited most of our churches last furlough and we were also offered an opportunity to put our kids in school. So to avoid too many absent days, I stayed home more than normal. We still did travel though and I was able to see so many of our wonderful supporters. We were also in about 7 new churches trying to raise additional support, so it was nice to meet new people as well. When all was said and done, our family traveled about 30,000 miles! Again, a lot of that Ben did alone and part of that mileage was a trip to Washington state for a missions conference! God provided a van through a ministry in Missouri, BMTM. We paid a monthly lease and they took care of everything else. It is a great ministry and we had the most amazing van! It had a built in TV that folded down from the roof. What was so awesome about it was it was hooked up to a VCR in the console between two of the passenger seats!! haha! It was dated, yes, but it worked like a charm. Ben's mom collects VHS tapes from yard sales, so we had no shortage of movies to watch while traveling! God provided some new support from some individuals and a few of our supporters increased the support they were already giving! We are at about 92% support right now, and still lack that 8%, but we know that God will provide what is still needed in His time! If you are interested in seeing our update presentation, feel free to watch it below. My blog has narrow margins, so if you want to see it in the full screen format, you can just click the link and it will take you directly to youtube.

Our kids had the awesome opportunity of going to real school! :) Not that homeschool isn't real school - but you know what I mean! haha! They got on their cute little uniforms and got up at the crack of dawn only to bring home loads and loads of homework every day. Suffice it to say, they are so happy to be back with mom as their teacher! lol! I'm being funny really, because the truth is they loved school. Emma and Faith especially. They all miss their teachers and their classmates. It was a wonderful learning time for all of us. I was able to see some things that I need to change. For took Drew weeks to learn to put his name on his paper. I don't make him put his name on his paper of course! I only have one 5th grader in my school so I know what papers are his! But, I see now it is an important skill to learn. They were overwhelmed with remembering what subjects were for homework and how to keep track of projects, but by the end of the first semester we were actually getting the hang of things. I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. They made friends, went on fun field trips, learned life-long lessons and just plain had fun. Not to mention - I loved days where I was by myself! It was wonderful! lol!

We loved spending time with family - the biggest highlight of our furlough. We lived about 5 minutes down the road from my Mom, which was wonderful. We were about 5 minutes away from my Grandmother, and about 10 minutes away from my brother and his family. We enjoyed all the special times of getting together. The cousins are old enough now that they play so well together. It was fun when Drew, Sam and Lukey got together with their Nintendo DS games. They'd link up and play one another. I enjoyed getting to know my nephews and niece better as well and especially fell in love with little Jude. He was just a baby the last time we were home, and he is such a stinkin' ham! I love him! And sweet Ellie as well, who was born while we were on the field this last term. I just loved getting to know all of them. I absolutely have to share this video my brother did of his kids. It is all his kids (they are all the fair skinned ones) and the Arce's kids quoting John 3:16. You will get a kick out of the ending. I could watch it a hundred times over - it just doesn't get old!
Now seriously...isn't that adorable??

A visit to the states isn't complete without some good vacations! Ben and I enjoyed a week getaway at a gorgeous cabin in the mountains. It was so nice, but I kept saying throughout the week, "Oh, the kids would just love this." Next time we want to take them with us!

In December we went to Florida with my parents and had a blast at Disney World. My Dad went with us, which was a rare opportunity, and the kids loved having him share all the special memories with them! The weather couldn't have been more perfect and the crowd levels were low. It was a great week. I even got my kids on a bunch of roller coasters! They are all hooked now!

So now we are back and there are some adjustments in our ministry. While we were on furlough we received a call from our co-workers that they were planning to come off the field. They actually left one week before our return here. So, there is a big hole in the ministry that we are praying will be filled with some of these men in our churches. It will be a very busy term for us however, as we carry the load of two families on only one set of shoulders. While we are looking forward to the Cameroonians to fill in the gaps, I also feel that team missions is a wonderful concept and having another American family to work with and fellowship with is a big help. I'm praying that God will give us another like-minded family that can work along side us!

We are getting settled again, and while our house is livable, it still has some work that needs to be done. The first week was spent cleaning every nook and cranny. I had to wash every single dish, cup, plate, fork etc... in the kitchen before we could even us it. We had to vacuum out all the cabinets and wipe down all the shelves. Everything was so dirty and mice had free run of our home as well and they did a lot of damage. It was difficult the first week because we didn't have water. That has since been taken care of and now my kitchen is functional, and I have just about washed everything there is to wash - minus a few curtains. We found the mouse's entrance and Ben cemented that and I think we are ready to go again. School starts back on Monday and whether I'm ready or not, I need to get back in the routine. We are ready for a 2 1/2 year term and excited to see what God is going to do! He is the strength in our weakness and He will get all the glory for what happens here in Bambili and Bamenda!

So, I hope that you will continue to follow me as I give updates! I appreciate my readers more than I can say! I love your comments and look forward to reading them!
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