We did it! Despite a genuine lack of food, a rather large bush fire, an army of hamster-sized spiders, and the ever-present ineptitude of the homeowner, we were finally able to bring our bush house up to a livable status! Yay!
The building trip had a bit of a rocky start when the helicopter pilot informed us that we had too much stuff with us, and that we’d have to get rid of 34 pounds of cargo before we could fly. This just happened to be the exact weight of ALL of our food, which had been lovingly prepared and packed by half a dozen wonderful missionary ladies. The rest of our weight consisted of necessary building supplies and our bodies (amputation was deemed impractical), so we had no choice but to leave our lasagna, beef stew, banana bread, and other edibles behind. It was probably the hardest goodbye I’ve ever had to say. (We compensated for the loss by eating crackers and peanut butter for breakfast and crackers with tuna for lunch. Every day. Also, our super cool partners stepped in and included us in their suppers, which is no small thing when your nearest grocery store is a 45 minute helicopter flight away.)
When we arrived in the village we had a big group waiting there to welcome us in, which was awesome. After lots of hugs and handshakes we went into the house to get started on our building projects. Here again, we were met with a large welcome party, which was much less awesome. When I left our bush house after our last build trip I told Rochelle that it was “basically bug proof.” Apparently, I am a very poor judge of what factors might inhibit the propagation of an insect population. Where I was expecting a quaint little jungle house, I found instead a thriving ecosystem.
Spiders, grasshoppers, ants, spiders, geckos, flies, moths, spiders, and spiders were EVERYWHERE. And, to clarify, these were not normal, temperate zone creatures that know how to maintain a reasonable body mass and flit around harmlessly. These were TROPICAL bugs, straight out of the worst horror films of the 1970s. They shake the house when they walk, engage in prolonged eye contact, and have a keen awareness of the main tenets of psychological warfare. In short, they are terrifying.
And our foam mattresses were directly on the floor. Each night I said a special prayer, in which I asked God that if one of these mutant behemoths ever crawled across my face while I slept, would He please kill me before I woke up and realized it. (Thankfully, this never happened.)
These first couple of days were not a walk in the park for Rochelle either. While I was off in the jungle, engaged in a unique mixture of home construction and guerilla warfare, she and the 3 boys were holding down the fort back on our mission center. The day I left she came down with a fever and chills, accompanied by an extreme case of hives. And baby Griffin got sick with a hacking cough. It wasn’t an ideal start to the week. (The other ladies on center stepped up in an amazing way, though, and came by every day to help with the boys, the laundry, meals, and the dishes. The body of Christ is amazing!)
Anyway, though the week had a few struggles, we were able to accomplish a lot: Our solar system is all hooked up, our water system and plumbing is up and running, our stove works, our furniture is mostly made, and some of the rooms are painted (to prevent mold)! We will be moving in as a family on Nov. 10th!
And, yes, we will be bringing lots and lots of insect spray with us.