We have been missionaries for 18 years now. Over the years I have developed a sort of history with rats. In fact, at this very moment I writing about rats on my blog to avoid going into my kitchen where I am almost sure there is a big rat in hiding, waiting to jump out at me if I open the door.
Ok, back to my history of rats. Growing up I lived in an old farmhouse that had mice. I didn't enjoy hearing mice crawling around in the walls or seeing the occasional mouse scoot across the floor. The worse thing was seeing the cat just sitting, looking at the wall, waiting patiently for that mouse to come out so he can grab it. I didn't enjoy this but I wasn't super scared of it. Still, I would give an appropriate reaction of jumping up on the chair and screaming a bit.
When we went to Indonesia we lived with a local pastor for 3 months or so. They had a beautiful house with open sewers which meant that they lived in a beautiful house with lots of rats. You would be eating supper and see the rats crawling around in the kitchen on the pots and pans. You would have the rats run right by you a you sat at the table. They would come into the bathroom; and even get into your bedroom. I had to learn see this without my normal jump on the chair and scream reaction. Hard to do; but probably good for my self control. Anyways, eventually we moved to our own house and we only had one rat I think; maybe two. One came in our bathroom through a drain pipe; and maybe there was one in the kitchen. But that was it. So, not that bad.
In the Philippines I don't remember ever having rats in our house. It might have been that the rats were allergic to the chicken poop messes that were all over the driveway; or they didn't like the huge spiders or lizards in the house.
In Brazil we lived in both Curitiba and Recife. In Curitiba we did have a rat that came to visit us right when my sister came to visit us. The rat came in a broken back door and actually got very close to Jamie at night while she slept (if the rat poo messes were any clue). The next day Joel was moved out to the couch with the rat and Jamie moved into my room. Poor Jamie had thought that there was a little dog outside trying to get in that broken back door. Nope...it was a rat that actually ate through a peanut butter container she had brought us from the US!!! Very bad rat!
In Recife we didn't have rats in our apartment but we could look out back and see them playing in the garbage heap.
Back in Curitiba again we had another rat problem that lasted for several weeks (happily one of those weeks was when I was in the US). Finally we figured out where he was coming from and they were able to block up the opening and that was the end of the in the house rat problem. We still had lots of rats on the garbage pile (the place we kept the garbage until they removed it daily to the road) by the fence near our house.
Ok, in Malawi we heard about people having lots of rats. I heard scary stories about people having rats climbing up their curtains and running across their livingrooms! ACK! The worse we had was a squirrel in the house at the lake and a dead rat found outside our door in the yard in Lilongwe. I assumed we were just living in a rat free house; but I did know that we hadn't lived in that house in the middle of the rainy season yet and that is when the rats come out and look for a high and dry place to live.
Ok, so now we are in our house in Kabwe. I already shared how we had "a" rat. Sigh. Well, turns out our friends were right; where there is one rat there are plenty more hiding. We can actually hear the rat parties up in the ceiling; they have a soccer ball up there I think that they kick around. Joel closed up one of the holes and we went at least a week without seeing any rats; but the last few days a rat has been hiding out in my kitchen. He then got brave enough to move into the dining room. Then one day I saw him flash out of the livingroom into the diningroom and Jasper did his duty and scared him into the kitchen for me.
Ok, yesterday was my birthday. I had a great day and the ending plan was a movie I wanted to see. I made popcorn and even had a coke for the special occasion. I was sitting in the livingroom watching my movie when a huge rat (think small cat size; not kitten size; but small regular cat size) came running out from under MY CHAIR!!! He started circling the livingroom! He ran from my chair to the couch; behind the TV stand; over by the door but the door was too near my chair and my screaching must have made him scared to go there; so back behind the TV stand; back behind the couch; and then finally out the livingroom door to the diningroom when the kids came running at my screams; and scared him back into the livingroom to do it all again! When the boys heard it was a rat that came running armed with sticks and other tools that might be needed and had a great time chasing it around the livingroom, through the diningroom and into the kitchen (where it has a hole and disappeared). Joshua is my true friend and he closed the kitchen door and put a heavy towel on the bottom to keep the rat from bothering me again. :-)
So, here I am. It is the next morning now. And the kitchen door is still closed; the towel is still there. And I am not going to open that door. I didn't have to cook yesterday because it was my birthday. I might not cook today because I think that I will never again enter my kitchen until the rainy season is over and the rats move to their winter homes outside!