Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where Have I Been???

Was I kidnapped by a warring tribe? Nope! Was I suffering some strange tropical disease? Un-uh! Was I eaten by a lion? Obviously not! Where have I been? You may ask.....
Well, none of those things mentioned above have happened, but lots of interesting things have!
It all started about two years ago. We had a national pastor living with us for a while. He raised pigs. What do you feed pigs here in Ghana? Nice pre-packaged FDA-approved pig food? No. You feed them rotten fruits and vegetables from the market and spoiled food from the food vendors. How do you get this food to the pigs? In your car, of course. Now in a tropical climate, even the tiniest bit of food left anywhere will draw.....cockroaches. The pastor tried very hard to keep them out of his car, but that is not possible when hauling pig food every day! How did this affect me? As some of you know, we don't have a car here in Ghana. When we returned from furlough, the pastor insisted we use his car to go to town and market on Mondays for our weekly shopping. Unfortunately, what we didn't realize was that those tricky little buggers were riding into our house on our shopping bags. Every once in a while, we'd see one on the countertops and smash it, but we didn't know that they were finding lots of hiding places in our kitchen cabinets!
Then, about seven months ago, our landlady decided to spray the apartments for bugs. Three of the apartments were sitting empty at that time. We were the only occupants. The problem was that she didn't tell us she was spraying for bugs. We came home to a funny smell and when we called the guy who takes care of the house, he told us that they had sprayed the empty apartments for bugs. My husband told him we wanted our house sprayed too, since all the bugs would flee to our house for safety, but he said he'd do it later. Too bad for us that he never got around to it! To make a long story a little bit shorter, we have been battling them ever since!
We not only had cockroaches, we had three different species of them!!! YUCK!!!!!!!!
Not only are cockroaches disgusting, but they are humiliating! Now, I know that everybody in a tropical climate has some, but growing up in a cold climate (Michigan), the only people who had cockroaches were people with filthy homes.
We have been trying to get rid of them since that fateful spraying day. First I tried natural remedies -- none of them worked. Then I tried some of the local pesticides -- they worked for a little while. Then I tried spraying, scrubbing, dumping, emptying, name it, I tried it! After just a few days though, it would look like I hadn't done anything!
Around the beginning of June, we got desperate. We decided it was the cockroaches or us. We decided to make one last stand, and if it didn't work, we would move out. I am not kidding. We were so overwhelmed that we were willing to move to a new place altogether and leave the problem for our landlady to deal with.
Our plan of action was to move out of our house, spray the entire house with very strong pesticides, and then slowly move back in. And if the spraying didn't work, we'd just live outside until we found a new house!!!!
About three weeks ago, we started packing up our house. We had to go through each thing page by page, corner by corner, box by box to make sure no bugs went outside with our stuff. It took two-and-a-half days to go through everything. Just about the time we got everything outside, it began to rain -- African rain (which for the uninitiated is similar to rain brought on by a hurricane)! We got everything covered up with tarps and plastic and prayed that it would stop quickly! It did stop after about thirty minutes, and nothing got wet! They then headed in to spray the houses. They did our neighbors houses first, and then they headed into our house. To put it simply, they flooded our house with very potent chemicals. Our kitchen had toxic standing water on the floor when they were done.
We didn't stay at our house that night, but went to the hotel next door instead. Isn't that convenient! I'm sure we were quite a sight walking into the hotel, filthy and drenched from head to foot, stinking like chemicals!
The next morning we came home, and I began to scrub our house from floor to ceiling. John started the tedious task of going through all our packed things and checking them again for bugs before bringing them back into the house. It was a long day; we all got sunburned terribly and Carey and I both had terrible reactions to the chemicals, too! We got about half of our things inside or on our porch before it began raining again -- African rain! In fact, it rained all night long....we were just hoping and praying that the tarps and plastic would hold. Amazingly enough, when we went to check it all on Saturday morning, very little had gotten wet, and of the things that did, very little got ruined!
Saturday I had to stop cleaning and unpacking to do laundry. Did I mention in this that my washing machine broke the week before all this happened? I got the privilege of washing a week's worth of clothes, all the curtains, all the bedding, and all the rugs by hand? Praise the Lord that my neighbor offered to wash two loads for me!
The following week we finally got everything back into every room in the house but the kitchen. We decided to let the kitchen sit for a while since that was where the majority of the problem was. We finally scrubbed it a week after spraying it. It looked like a nuclear fall-out area. The day after we got it all cleaned, the kitchen flooded and water flowed into half our house. I'm so glad that the flood waters weren't filled with dead cockroach carcasses and chemicals!
So where do things stand today?
Life is almost back to normal! We are going to have to replace a few things, but nothing major. It looks like our problem is almost gone. We needed to keep the kitchen empty so that we could respray at the three-week mark. That's when all the leftover eggs will hopefully be hatched..I know, that's disgusting! And where is my kitchen then? My kitchen is still located on the...porch. I have had the wonderful joy of cooking and eating outside for several weeks now. I guess I'm really becoming one of the locals!
So......that's where I've been the last few weeks! I know it's not a good excuse, but I think it makes a pretty good story!


  1. OH MY GOODNESS,PATTY!! That is awful! Just reading your story made my skin crawl.

    It is good that you can see the humor in it after all of that. Most would not. I will pray that you can have your bug free and indoor kitchen back quickly.

  2. I was just coming on here to say that reading this made me itch, but I see Rachel beat me to it!

    I'm glad you're getting back to normal...

  3. WOW!
    I have been praying for you and thinking about you but had not talked to your mom in awhile.What an adventure~It really does make for a good story.
    Jackie will love reading it when she gets home.
    I usually check every day to see if you have written and you did finally last saturday but that was just a nice note.
    Was very glad to hear from your mom that Ella was well again.

    We love you guys and pray for you always.
    Take care!That may make for a good story but I pray your days get a little more boring!!!! Not in your service but in those kinds of things!

  4. Hope it gets better soon. Sorry you have had such a hard time--really, I am. That is rough.

  5. Oh, girl! I can't imagine. However, I'm really glad that a lion didn't eat you or that you didn't get kidnapped:)

    Praying for you and your family. Thank you for serving the Lord in Ghana!