Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | December 10, 2011

Strangers Without & Nuisances Within

Liz was away for the weekend.  Olga was in the kitchen.  Laura and I were sitting in the living room enjoying our students’ Daniel 7 illustrations.

Suddenly, Laura looked at me and asked, “Did you hear something?  It sounded like a guy’s voice.”

My first thought was that Andrew had stopped by, but I quickly dismissed that idea.  He always announces his presence with a hearty, “Hello!”  Whatever – or whoever – was much too quiet to have been Andrew.

We strained our ears, trying to catch any sounds that might waft in through our open windows.  Sure enough, over the hum of the insects and the whir of our fans, we faintly heard the voice again, “Teacher!”

I hurried to open the door and peered out into the darkness.  At first I thought we must have been hearing things since no one was at our steps, but as my eyes adjusted, I was quite startled to see not just one or two students, or even a small group.  Instead, it looked as if the entire boys’ dorm had come over for a visit!  I was even more startled to notice that their slow advance toward our house was accompanied by flashlights shining in all directions – into the fields, under the house, up the trees – and large sticks raised and ready to strike at any moment.

While the rest continued to shine their lights around, a group of about eight boys separated themselves from the others and came to the bottom of our steps.  I smiled and waited for them to speak.

“Teacher, Him have something to say,” Chhanny announced solemnly.

I looked at Him (Yes, that is his name – Here at Wat Preah Yesu we can say with perfectly correct grammar: “Him climbed the tree to pick coconuts for Hee and Him’s friends.”) who smiled back at me, trying to hide the concern in his eyes.  “Teacher,” he said, “I walking on road and I see some men.  They stare at your house, then they go around back by the pump.  I think they robbers.  Keep everything far from the windows or maybe they reach through and steal.  Lock door and stay inside tonight.  We go to scare.”

I thanked the boys for this information and closed the door.

“What was that all about?” Laura asked with a puzzled expression, so I explained what Him had said.  “Oh!” she exclaimed once she heard.  “Maybe this explains why Olga’s screen was open Wednesday evening and she hasn’t been able to find her iPod.”

We hurried around, checking all the windows, and sure enough, Olga’s screen was open again.

Just then, my phone rang.  “It’s Andrew,” I announced as I picked it up to answer.

“Hey, Sarah, I just got a call from Kat.  She’s hiding out in her house.  Apparently there are some strange guys hanging around outside.  They’re probably up to no good – likely robbers.  You should probably close and lock all your windows for the night, just to be safe.  I’m in the village, but I’m coming back as fast as I can.  If you need anything give me a call.”

We hurried around, securing all the windows.  After we finished, we returned to the living room and sat down to continue where we’d left off.  But the quiet didn’t last long.

“Crunch, crunch.  Crunch, crunch…scratch, scratchty-scratch, scratch.  Scratch, scratch, scratch!  Thump.  Thump.  Thump, thump, thumpty-thumpty-thump, THUD!”

Laura and I looked at each other and started to laugh.  “We have robbers without and rats within!” I finally managed to gasp.

The crunching, scratching, thumping, and occasional thudding continued for some time as the nightly “rat races” and “ratrobatics,” as we now call them, proceeded in our ceiling.

Now, for those of you who might be worried, you can rest at ease.  Although the robbers have returned a few times, it’s clear they are interested in items they can make profit off of in town.  We’re pretty sure the thieves are some of our mid-teen orphanage boys since they seem to always know when we (or Kathleen or Andrew and Jason or the Maddocks) are not home.  Our big boys at the dorm have been highly protective of us (we can hardly go anywhere by ourselves after dark), and they are ready at a moment’s notice, along with Andrew, Jason, and the Maddocks, to come out for the attack.  Him has declared himself our personal “security” guard.  We have a list of numbers for all the members of the “Security Team” – the dorm fathers and all the house fathers in the orphanage – at Wat Preah Yesu, plus the members of the local police in town.  Andrew and Jason have been setting up security systems, including wiring up a battery to the metal bars on doors and windows, and installing motion-sensing security cameras at various places the thieves like to frequent.  I can tell you I certainly wouldn’t want to be one of the robbers who accidentally met up with any of our security team!  As for the rats, we’re constantly scheming up and testing out new ideas for their demise since rat bate seems ineffective.  Hopefully soon both problems will be solved.

Note: This was written a while back and then filed and forgotten.  Jason left a few days ago to return to America until he can get his visa problems sorted out and maybe get some more education while he’s there.  Then he’ll return to Thailand where he was working before.


  1. What a post! You are a very talented writer! I felt as thought I was there with you! So many experieces to tell about. Keep wiritng down your thoughts, descriptions of happenings. They may be valuable later, perhaps even for as book.
    I was waiting for your post. What a good way to start a week! My son, whom you met, is going to Macedonia to teach next year. Lots of changes.


  2. Is there peppermint oil over there that you can try leaving around for the rats? Apparently they are allergic to it and it seems to keep them away. We have put it on cotton balls and put them throughout the house or just dripped some oil along walls or wherever they might be coming in.

    Praying for you all!

    • Hmm…I think we’ll have to look around and see if we can find peppermint oil! Thanks for the suggestion, Ashley. 🙂

      • You’re welcome! Hope they go away!

  3. Dear Laura and Sarah,

    I just now found a quiet moment to read this last post. I am so blessed by your service and your willingness to share with us. So glad that you are safe.

    It is Christmas morning and I am thinking of the two of you so far from home. Here is a very Merry Christmas hug for each of you (<3) (<3)

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.



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