Cockroaches the size of mice..

Disclaimer: This story is not for the faint hearted! Or at least.. well, you know, it’s fun anyway, so go ahead, but put your smily-glasses on! :-D

Communication is key, and with a group our size, different challenges appear. Cooking for 25 people is different than cooking for 5 people as it requires a lot more time, planning and plain logistics.
I’m responsible for the food, and so far that has very much been played by ear, as they say. A lot of things have to be flexible because of the nature of a YWAM outreach. And that works out fine, as long as we have a vision.

It’s still easy to see the heart of people in our group as we’ve spent much time together now: three months on campus in Kona as part of a larger group, and now nearly three weeks here on Palau. Especially the time on Palau has been good as it has given us many different challenges. With 25 people, we’ve had many different responses.

One example is our living quarters. We’re staying in a large room (approx 13x7m) inside a community building. That room is both our kitchen, living room, sleeping room, and at times ball room, study, meeting room, cinema, prayer room, and what not.
If you change your thinking cap from pink to realism, it should be understandable that this can be very challenging. Yet this serves a purpose too: challenges are good for growth. And yes, that’s easiest to say in retrospect.

It’s my belief that one of the main ingredients for a relationship is time. Simply put: Time spent together is required for a relationship to develop.
Of the group, halve of the people make up three families; two families with children, one newly-wed couple. So the living situation gets even more challenging cause all time is spent building the relationship with everybody, but not with the family itself.
When that was addressed and acknowledged, our local contact came up with a possibility for the families to check in to a house where people just moved out of cause it was too small. She asked the single guys to clean it on Saturday.
When reading this line, you’ll have a mental image in your head of a house. People lived in it and just moved out for a reason. I’m not sure what you thought of the cleaning part, but for me it seemed a good idea as it would create greater cohesion within the group.

However. Different times and places give different expectations. The house turned out to not have been thoroughly cleaned for ages; swiping the floor is good, but it needed a Korean-style two-week in-depth hardcore cleaning project. So we did the kitchen with an overdose of bleach in order to be able to put down the food we brought without it sticking. After cleaning the three bed frames, figuring out and putting up the beds, it was well past midnight.

Mice are niceAfter midnight, we found out, the creepy things come out: Sitting on the beds in the living room, we suddenly noticed half a dozen moving thingies. They were moving fast.
We thought we had a mouse problem, but the thingies weren’t shy: they turned out to be cockroaches and they were going all over the place.

Enter: the hero. His weapon of choice: his wife’s slipper. His method of destruction: sudden death. The hero was very effective and though the roaches were fast, they were a poor match for Matt’s honed skills.
He had earlier experience with a huge spider in the bathroom. The size of Bente’s fist. He smashed that without much ado, though it left an orange splatter which probably will be there until 2 Peter 3,10.

With two out of three kids asleep in moderate safety on the beds, we decided to move the mattresses to the sleeping room, which seemed a more roach-free zone somehow. We sprayed the place as good as we could with the one can of roach-spray and reasoned that should be good enough.
But really: with cockroaches hiding in all corners and cracks, reason goes out the window. Roaches are creepy!
If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘Ratatouille’, you’ll remember the scene with all the rats living in the attic at the old woman’s house. That scene played in my head, with cockroaches instead of rats.

I fell asleep way late. Dreamt of bugs and roaches until 3 am. That was when I woke up from a cockroach taking a tour on my left arm (I still wash that part every day).
I hunted it down and used the last fumes of the anti-roach can to kill it on the spot. The anti-roach stuff doesn’t work so well cause both this single roach and the heaps of others we found the morning after were still twitching a lot, though their flying capabilities were shut down.
Yes. Cockroaches have wings. Cockroaches fly. The horror. Cause back in my bed at 3.15 I was still picking up the sound of flying bugs. Considering the environment, that could very well be cockroaches. And scenes of this other movie started playing in my head… battleship troopers…

Eventually, after more interruptions by other people moving around in the room hunting more cockroaches, morning finally came. And with it, a feeling of gratitude.
Considering the number of twitching roaches on the floor, we were happy that we had sealed all food, so we could enjoy a few sandwiches with peanut butter. I’m sure civilization will end when we run out of PB-sandwiches. They’re both luxerious ànd practical (the perfect gift, really).

Lessons learnt.
One. Do not trust hearsay.
Seriously: do not rely on people saying that someone said such and so. You’ll not get the full picture, reasons why, nor any of their presuppositions.

Two. Do not presuppose.
Expectations are usually based on your previous experience and other people’s descriptions. Something that is not communicated also means something. The things said and the things unsaid are both important.

Three. Get rid of the pink glasses.
Get a lawyer’s mind set, and ask yourself the ‘what if’ question a lot. But keep it to yourself so you don’t get in anyone’s way: it’s more about the intention than the facts. There’s no excuse for hurt, so play it nice. But be prepared.