Sunday afternoon relaxing meant sitting in the sun on the couch in our 8x10 room reading a book. I was basking in the sun coming in the open door and the lazy schedule that meant I didn’t have to cook for the community of 20 missionaries. Suddenly I froze as I noticed out of the corner of my eye a black shape sliding into the open door and slithering behind the book shelf that divided our tiny home into living room and office. In that split second I realized two things. One, that black shape was a spitting cobra. Two, it was sliding towards Randy who was enjoying his quiet Sunday on the other side of that book shelf. In the next second I screamed and leaped out the open door onto the small veranda. My scream communicated the urgency and Randy raced out to join me.
It wasn’t long before other members of our team joined us as we awaited the departure of our unwelcome Sunday visitor. More than an hour later the cobra casually slithered outside the door, but at the sight of a waiting crowd it raced to shelter under the nearby container, conveniently out of the reach of the men armed with stones and grass slashers. We continued to rehash all the details of this event and swaggered on with more snake stories until the supper bell rang.
Remembering that event more than 16 years ago, I can only laugh. What an odd form of entertainment we had in those early days of missions. We had snake visits and obnoxious monkeys stealing our crops and intimidating our dogs. We fought raging bush fires that threatened the borders of our campsite during dry season, and during the rainy season we dealt with the floods that covered the bridges that we used to visit our neighbors. We had spontaneous and community oriented entertainment in those days. There was little privacy so every event gathered the troops. And every event ended with more stories and laughter and natural camaraderie. Those were difficult days, but I miss those days.
As a mission community we didn’t have much. We lived in small camp-site rooms and had cold water showers. In response to frequent power outages we often cooked and ate by candlelight, resorted to using the pit toilets we had dug, and hauled our water with buckets from the river. But we were a team who shared the challenges and adventures together.
One thing I learned during those days was that I could adjust to almost anything. Outside ablutions, cleaning dishes with cold water, and even pit toilets became “normal” after time and I could almost not imagine another life! And I learned that I could do it with joy. In these days when my husband and I are in major transition and strained by tight living quarters in my mother-in-law’s house, I am reminded of those early days. And I know that I will be victorious and will one day look back and see the stamp of God’s grace and joy on this season of our lives also.
Picture from http://www.freesnake.com/spittingcobra2.html.