Friday, March 26, 2010

Killer Bees in Congo - Jim Smith

We have noticed for years that there were African killer bees in the little woods near our house. They have never bothered anyone, and one man even climbed up and got us some honey from their nest. He did this by smoking the nest so that the bees scattered, and it was at night. Night time is better because the bees cannot see as well at night just like us.

The Congolese do not wish to kill the bees, so they use smoke to chase them away temporarily in order to obtain the honey and the honeycomb. The palm tree containing the bees was cut down in order to give more sunlight to our newly built greenhouse (Congolese style). Although we knew bees inhabited that immediate area, we did not know that this particular palm tree was THEIR HOME.

Two days later,the bees whose house had been violated decided to put their nest IN THE ATTIC OF OUR HOUSE! Hundreds and hundreds of bees entered our home between the tin roof and the wall because screen was not covering all the little air passageways. They found places to enter and began setting up their new nest, preparing for a queen bee to come sit on her throne.

I had no idea this was going on as I had been out of the house working all day. In the late afternoon, however, I and some of our staff began seeing bees swirling round outside near the attic, looking for a place to enter, which they did. The men with me were very concerned. They knew something would have to be done, but it was late in the day.

I thought the bees might be trying to put their new nest in the eaves of the tin roof, so I went to bed as usual, and slept the night undisturbed. My wife, Nancy, had already left Congo to return to America. The following day, one of our workers, Aza, went up into the attic, and he returned very quickly. The attic was loaded with killer bees. They were all over. I was still in the house because they had not chosen to come down to the second floor. The attic is on the third floor.

When Aza returned he said that the situation was not good and that we needed to do something about it. Now they were beginning to come to the second floor where all the bedrooms are, buzzing around in the landing, so I got the bug spray. It worked--for a while. I was warned by the nationals not to step on and crush any of the bees because the other bees will rush to his defense after smelling his fluids that come out after he is crushed. They can come by the hundreds, so trying to get rid of them by the bug spray was not quite like crushing one of them.

I closed the bedroom door (its' about 9 p.m.), and the generator is running to give us lights. By this time, about 50 bees were dead on the floor from the bug spray on the landing outside of our bedroom. Aza came by and shut the generator off. With the lights turned off and the doors closed, I felt by their silence, they were settling down.

The next day, one of the first questions asked was, "Did the bees bother you last night or this morning?" I said, "No." Now there were even more bees swirling around outside. Aza, from the Bapende tribe, knew that we had to take action to get the bees away from the house. They have had experience with killer bees. These are aggressive African bees, and if they are bothered in any way, they strike. So, he and his son, Ntoto, got the long ladder. The attic is close to 25' in the air. The bees had centered themselves outside of the attic in vents which are usually covered by screen, but they had found a hole to get in.

Aza took an old rag and put some used truck oil on it. He lit it well enough so that it was smoking. I gave him a hooded raincoat and a pair of gloves and a torch that was 10' long. He didn't want to get any closer than he had to. The smoke began to drive the bees away. I am outside watching this happen. The bees knew because of the smoke that this was not a good place to set up housekeeping.

So they left. We really didn't know for sure the status of the attic--whether or not they had cleared completely out. So Aza went up the stairs again to make an inspection two days after their arrival. They were gone, but the floor was covered by hundreds and hundreds of them.

Though I had been warned that the African bee is very aggressive, I didn't realize how dangerous they could be until I saw the way Aza and many of our work staff reacted to their presence. Their concern was contagious. How grateful I was for Aza and Ntoto who were willing to risk being bitten to protect me and get rid of those bees. Again the method was smoke and fire because no fluids are exuded from the bee which would draw other family bee members to attack whatever or whoever had crushed one of their relatives.

I am thankful to this day for the mercies of God and the goodness of our African people!

Jim Smith

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Braid of Joy, Sorrow, and Hope

March 17 would have been the second birthday of our grandson, Luke. Referred to by his parents as, "Our little man," they decided to bring together children and friends to honor his memory yesterday, on March 20. We gathered at a beautiful park in Franklin, and scores of children and their parents, both sets of grandparents, Greg and Nicol and Summer, cousins, and some people who are walking the same road as Nicol and Greg all met to remember and celebrate Luke's life.

We mingled with purpose, and our ears and eyes delighted in

the sounds of adult laughter

the joy of children laughing

the sweetness of cousins hugging

the balm in lots of hugging

the satisfying fun food

the freshness of new acquaintances

the warmth of family

the delight of a cake walk

the surprise of discovery on an Easter egg hunt

the wealth of sharing

the wonder of God's Hand in holding off the rain

the showing up of the Lord in the little things

the appreciation of decent weather

the peace of no stress

the visiting of Luke's grave site later on

the quiet tears

the shared sorrow

the soft weeping

the reminiscing

the wrapping of all these wonderful elements into the blessed hope that

the best is yet to come

the balm that followed

Postscript: Jim, having lost a baby brother, a teen-aged brother, his father at the age of 10, and his mother who preceded us to Congo in '78, offered to Nicol that Lukey might be offering them this comfort, "Oh! Mama, Oh! Daddy, Oh! Summer, What Glory!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A tribute to Bob Mero

Everyone needs a Bob Mero in their life. We met him more than forty years ago at the Michigan Sunday School Convention in Detroit. Jim and I had just left Warrendale Community Church to go into music evangelism; and, while singing at the convention, this gentleman by the name of Bob walked by his booth. His wife, Helen, was by his side. They immediately took an interest in Jim and me and our family