the Vernon Journal

Serving the Kingdom in Southeast Asia

Filtering by Tag: animals

The Salamander and the Sparrows

Well, our trip back to the village was a very successful one, in many ways it felt like we had never been gone at all. Sure, some things have changed, like little baby Ma-Li taking her first steps, three new homes being built and many relatives returning from their jobs around Thailand for Chinese new year, but for the most part the village was just as we remember - full of people we love and who love us. There is a really bad cough/cold/fever that is going around the village - one mother has a baby girl whose temperature is hovering around 104. We were able to get medicine to all of them, but please join us in praying for their safety and recovery as we are back in the city over this next week.

Our biggest fear going back to our village home was that it would be infested with families of rats and monstrous spiders. When you leave an empty structure that is open to the elements this tends to happen. We didn't need to worry, however, as we came into a dusty house without the telltale droppings of either of these scary little beasties (on a side note, that should show you how big these spiders are - you can actually see their droppings).

We hope that we have finally learned how to seal everything up well enough to not attract the rats into our home, but the lack of spiders is directly related to our two newest house guests: Ricky and Lucy.

Our Guests: Ricky and Lucy Sparrow

These two little birds have taken up residence in our roof, and we are happy to have them. The Akha like it when birds nest in their homes, and they build little platforms under the nests to keep things clean. The birds keep the bug levels down and provide a much more pleasant alarm clock than the standard village roosters.

Lucy and Ricky are a young couple, and have not yet decided if they are going to live in our home long term as they are currently just perching in our loft. Our hope is that they get the baby itch soon and decide to build a more permanent nest. Currently they spend all their time in playful flirtations as all newlyweds should.

We also had a slightly less welcome guest: a thirsty lizard made his way into our toilet and could not get himself out. Lori found him and scooped him out, hopefully a litter wiser for the experience, but not before taking this frightening footage...

...actually, he's kind of cute. if he sticks around we might have to come up with a name for him too.

For those of you who have been to our village: No, we did not take the rough 4-wheel drive road to get there. Instead, we took the long, curvy route. This way Lori didn't get bumped around - just a little carsick. No, the shortcut is off the route list until sometime after the baby arrives. Lori did really well all three days in the village, eating Akha meals and not getting morning sick at all. She did smell fish during our after-church lunch meal and lost it, but sensitivity to smells is still better than the misery of morning sickness. Thanks for all of your prayers!

We will be heading back up again this weekend and hope to have more news from our prospective helper/language teacher. We'll keep you all informed.


All of you now know that we are living in a bamboo house (see our pictures). There are, of course, many gaps and openings for any number of things to get into our home but generally we do not have problems with bugs or lizards or anything bothering us. The great thing about the open air environment is that little critters can get out as easily as they can get in. And, as the saying goes, they're more scared of us than we are of them. While that old saying is generally true, it becomes irrelevant if the intruder is a spider, for there Lori and I share a common phobia. In Colorado, especially in Golden, we came across a number of Black Widows in our time and quite honestly the idea that something so small can be that dangerous was enough to set a pretty permanent fear in us. It was really the only thing we hoped to avoid when were moving to Thailand (well, that and Lori had this thing about leeches, which by the way is another story you should ask me about sometime).

So the other day we were cleaning the sawdust left from all the insects who are slowly eating our home from our containers (we keep everything in containers for cleanliness, dust and bugs) when Lori very animantly called me over with a "Oh my goodness there is a huge spider". I had heard this statement before and my common response question of "how big?" was caught in my throat as I saw an enormous spider on our shelf, almost eye-level to Lori. It probably would have fit very comfortably in the palm of my hand, although I don't believe I ever could survive such and experience.

But worst of all, worse than the giant spider, was the fact that it was holding beneath its body a sac of eggs about the size of an old 50-cent piece. We went about talking how to kill it but it was very fast and after a number of attempts to smash it and trap it, it ended up on one of the posts that supports our house. We swung at it but it circled the post and ended up on a bamboo beam that goes over our bed. An interesting thing about bamboo. Because it is hollow you can tap on it like a drum, and as that spider raced across the beam over our bed we could hear every step it took clicking on the bamboo. Of course it was a brave moment for us, Lori began screaming and I ducked away as the spider crossed into our living room.

It was at this point Lori decided we needed help. She ran out to the village and told the first woman she saw that there was a large something (we don't know the word for spider) in our home that needed to be killed. The woman asked "How Big?" and Lori put her hands in a circle. The woman screamed to the men in the village and four of them jumped up, grabbed huge sticks and came racing to our house. Lori was very impressed at their exuberance.

However, when they arrived in our home to find me threatening a spider their excitement faded. You see, they thought we had a four-inch diameter snake in our home. They knocked the spider down and killed it with their sticks (see it really was that big) and left quite humored by the "Pa La"s.

Now we're just scared of enormous snakes.

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