Friday, April 28, 2017

Little House on the Mission Field

When it’s time for new blog topics, Allen, Trish, and Russell generally get together and toss around ideas. By the time I talk to one of them on the phone, it’s simply a matter of writing down what an enthusiastic Sowers says. This week was different. Allen and Russell are off building a bridge and the duty of brainstorming for a blog topic fell on Trish and me. Now, we’re both pretty creative people, but suddenly there was a momentary brainstorming drought and we were left hearing crickets in our heads. Trish jokingly messaged me that we could write about the Honduran bug infestation and was probably surprised when I thought it sounded like a great idea! I’ve read enough stories about life on the mission field to know that things like bugs, snakes, and monkeys are hot topics. Since I haven’t heard Trish say a word about snakes or monkeys, I jumped on the bugs.

Party Time for Bugs

This is the year of the grasshopper in Western Honduras. More specifically, every third year grasshoppers arrive in numbers most North Americans will only read about in a missionary story. Cicadas also show up every few years and this year the grasshoppers and the cicadas synchronized their travel schedules. And beetles are also underfoot and flying nightly dive-bombing raids. Not to be left out, the flying termites are expected soon. As Trish said, “It’s like a party going on with the bugs. The scorpions are like the wallflowers of the party. They’re not coming out and dancing, but they’re the ones you don’t want to mess with.”


This is what the full-grown grasshoppers will look like.

These are not mambi-pambi grasshoppers. These suckers will grow to be about five inches in length. Having read the Little House on the Prairie series more times than you can shake a slate pencil at, I know that bugs tend to not be the farmer’s friend. I asked how the grasshoppers will affect the coffee fields. Fortunately, the grasshoppers seem to abstain from coffee. Trish has a few house plants that live outside and the grasshoppers don’t seem to care for plants with glossy leaves. Coffee plants have fairly glossy leaves. Trish’s accidental tomato plants, which just popped up from the compost heap, have not been as lucky, and she’s quite thankful their diet does not rely on her gardening abilities.

The current appearance of the grasshoppers.
They have not yet achieved their full size, and they
will also lose their stripes and become solid-colored.
When the grasshoppers first appeared a few months ago, they were teensy little things that could go by unnoticed. They are currently about two inches long and, since they like to hang out in crowds, they are noticeable. They are now starting to come into the house with regularity. Trish described the many times she’s sitting in the recliner, working on her laptop, and having a grasshopper peering at her up over the top of her screen. She said, “You know if it’s facing you and decides to jump, it’s landing on you. They’re not scary, but they have little hook things on their legs. It’s kind of creepy and it will be relentless until the end of summer. They’re kind of beautiful if you’re not horrified by them.”

Termites swarming near our roof line.
Soon, the grasshoppers will be joined by the flying termites that arrive each rainy season. Trish said there will be a termite competing for every cubic inch of space. She described them by saying, “They start off as delicate little bugs. They are flying ant size, but their bodies are more wormlike. They have delicate wings. Wingtip to wingtip, they’re probably less than an inch. After they have mated, the wings fall off. Then you have loose, black wings EVERYWHERE! They’re light and feathery and not easy to sweep up. Like glitter! Their little bodies become like worms and they’re everywhere, too--inside your sheets and clothes. You can’t cook because they’ll be in your food. The house has open rafters, which are quite high up. Every time there is a breeze, bug parts will waft down--gently, over the course of the entire year. They are able to spread out their annoyance level.”


While she takes the buggy stuff in stride, toward the end of our conversation, Trish laughed and said, “God has put me on this earth to make other people more content with their lives.”

I think she may be onto something!

 - posted by Christi

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