he day started like all the rest. My sleep was disturbed by my young son’s hungry cry. Half asleep, I tripped to the kitchen to make him a bottle. As I reached the filtered water container, I started to feel something—no, many things—crawling up my legs. Then they bit me! I screamed as I ran back to the safety of my room, not realizing that they were there, too. That Monday when I woke up, about 10,000 almaze
or acid bugs, were all over my living room floor and front porch. It took about one and a half hours to sweep them out. They are nasty bugs that shoot a skin-burning enzyme when cornered. Red and black in color, they are only the size of an elongated ant, but the sore their bite produces takes a week to heal.
Tuesday should have been a better day, but it was worse. Instead of almaze
, there were at least 100,000 biting, black ants! Their half-inch-wide trails went from the front porch to the living room and two of the bedrooms.
Binyam, our son-in-law, had come to my rescue; he was burning them from the porch as they bit him, the laundry worker, and me numerous times. He said they were capable of killing even a small child, so my attention turned back to my little son, Sammie, who had wanted a bottle. He had stopped crying, and that was not like him.
“Is Sammie, OK?!” I screamed to Dinqee, our 8-year-old who reacts better than most teens I know. “Dinqee, ants in the house! Check Sammie and Henock; Hawii is OK!” I yelled, waking her out of deep sleep.
Dinqee ran for the insect spray, bravely forging through the sea of biting ants barefooted! I scrambled for shoes and started sweeping as many of these pests out of the house as possible. Everywhere I turned there was a new trail of them; they were under the linoleum, behind the sofa, and along the wall toward the bathroom. Dinqee and I hopped around to keep the bugs from climbing our legs while we were ridding the house of them. Dinqee and I sprayed, cleaned, and swept for more than three hours, still finding stray biting ants between our toes every few minutes.
The next day I hoped would be easier. I woke up cautiously and checked the floor. No bugs so far. I checked the walkways to the front door and everything was clear.
“Maybe we will finally have a normal day!” I said to Dinqee.
Then I heard Hawii cry from the bedroom. To my dismay, her eyes were almost completely swollen shut and her face was beet red and swollen! I ran to my medicine chest and tried to find some medicine to help her.
While feeding the other babies, I noticed that Hawii was gagging on her pancake. Immediately I panicked, thinking that she couldn’t breathe. Running up the hill to the hospital, I tried to find a doctor, but no one was available. Hawii did not seem to be in distress at that point, so I patiently waited. The chaplain saw me and sent me to one of the other moms on campus who might have some Benadryl to share. I thought to myself, Can’t I have one morning this week go smoothly?
The mom helped me and reassured me of Hawii’s recovery.
As I walked back down to the house, I held my daughter extra-tight, and soon she was feeling much better. On examining the causes of her allergic reaction, only two things seemed possible. Either an almaze
squirted its enzyme on the blanket she sleeps on (which was changed that night), or the very toxic bug spray we used those two mornings was more than she could handle. After talking to a physician from Denmark, the reason became clear: the almaze was the culprit.
After the babies were all tucked into bed, I looked over at my comrade, Dinqee and said, “Why do you think this all happened to us?”
She looked at me and smiled, “I think some of the ants and almaze
have eaten a few of our cockroaches!”
I laughed. What had seemed like an awful incident had probably helped us in the long run. Sometimes the bad stuff in life can help us.
Thank You, God, for the bugs. You know best!
*In the Oromifa language. It is also called the rove beetle)
--Monica Barlowe, writes from Gimbie Adventist Hospital in Ethiopia. This article, adapted for KidsView, appeared in Mission Post, vol. 13, no. 3, and is used with permission. For more information, please visit: http://www.adventistvolunteers.org/MissionPost/default.aspx.