"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where termites and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." --Matt 6.19
All right, I've taken a few liberties with the text and introduced a term that does not exist in the original. Call it the Revised Niger Version. We don't have many moths here, at least not those that cause much destruction. But termites...
For years we have kept some personal valuables and keepsakes in three cardboard boxes. These are all paper-based valuables. Some of the stuff is more than 23 years old. When we moved last year, we decided to store the three boxes on the floor under our computer desk.
A few weeks ago, I noticed some "cookie crumbs" under the computer desk and wondered who was eating while working at the computer (a long-standing rule in our house is that food and drink is not allowed at the computer). I cleaned up the "crumbs" and thought nothing of it. Then on Saturday, April 25, Nancy discovered more "crumbs" under the desk. It was after 9 p.m., and it was beastly hot and humid. She picked up one of the "crumbs" and instantly discovered it was dirt. We realized immediately we had a termite problem. I tried to pull out one of the boxes, but it was stuck to the floor and at my touch, the box crumbled into dust. It was infested with termites. Here are some photos of the mess.
REMOVING THE BOX TOPS
THE MESS UNDER THE DESK
A FORMER BOX
CHECK OUT THIS PIECE OF WORK!
Termites like a warm, moist environment in which to make their home. Believe me, we had a nice little termite mound growing right under our noses inside our house. It was wonderfully hot and humid under there with the computer right next door.
LOOK HOW THEY ATE THIS OLD LANGUAGE NOTEBOOK
SOME OLD LANGUAGE NOTES--IN HAUSA
CAN YOU PICK OUT THE TERMITES IN THIS PHOTO?
A FORMER NOTEBOOK
CLEANING UP THE MESS
Now what was in those boxes? Old letters from and to family (I managed to salvage a good part of these), old love notes between Nancy and I (completely destroyed and irreplaceable), magazines (mostly not important), language learning materials (some of our old language notes for both Hausa and Songhai were totally destroyed, but I managed to salvage some), and notes for various courses I've taught in Niger (I managed to retrieve all of these from the mess of destruction).
I hate termites. But they do serve a useful function in this part of the world. You see, the soil in Niger is at best poor, and at worst, sterile. We don't have worms that can aerate the soil and replenish the nutrients to the soil. Termites do that job here. They will invade any organic matter left out in the field and break it down into decent soil. Sticks, stalks, compostable matter, and other biodegradable stuff left out in the sun to dry will quickly be turned into, if not manure, at least into tillable soil. How do you like that?
Will there be termites in heaven? If there are they will perform the good functions God intended and won't destroy. Anyway, our hope is not in earthly treasures which so easily turn to dust and ashes, but in God who cleanses us from all sin.
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