Posted by: សារ៉ា(Sarah) | June 22, 2014

Jungle Journal,  March ?? – The Whiteboard “Rat”

It all started when “Daddy” (Mr. Sharon) and “Momo” (Mrs. Sharon) left for Mae Sot on a visa run.  The remainder of that Thursday proceeded as normal, Jason and I sharing responsibilities of teaching five classes to twenty-seven students, supervising the work program, cooking lunch and dinner, and managing the four little girls, two of whom decided to be naughty.

Friday morning dawned earlier than usual.  Through some misunderstanding, the girl students who have been sleeping in our house woke up around 4:30 in the morning and began their day at a normal level of volume.  By 5:00, all four of the younger girls (including five-year-old Hannah and two-year-old Destiny) had been thoroughly awakened and all hopes of them sleeping longer fled.  Once again, the two naughty ones from the day before continued their behavior and I didn’t dare leave them alone for a moment.

After morning worship and breakfast, rather than heading out for work, most of our twenty-seven students packed their bags and headed back to the refugee camp for the weekend (Although sorry to see them go, I was exhausted and relieved).  Jason and I hauled the whiteboard up the hill to his house where we’ve established a temporary kitchen.  As he cooked soybeans for soybean paste, our nine remaining students gathered around and we drilled them on some basic English conversations.  Fortunately Destiny slept through class and lunch preparation, which made for a cheerful little girl the rest of the day.

By 2:30 that afternoon, Jason and one other student followed the other eighteen who’d left earlier.  Lah Cher took charge of Sabbath cooking.  I was so thankful for him all weekend – he was a huge help!  I gathered the four younger girls and the remaining seven students, most armed with machetes, and headed down the trail to the river.  Razor-sharp sand grass grew along the trail, nearly covering it in some places.  While the girls and students attacked grass with machetes and threw it down into the river, Destiny waded in the shallow water while I kept watch.  Within thirty minutes of machete swinging, the pathway had been cleared and we headed back up to the house.  I walked with Destiny who was determined to climb the hill by herself while everyone else hurried up ahead of us.  As we straggled up to the house, Hannah met me at the porch railing, wailing at the top of her lungs.  “Sarah, I’m scared!”  Startled by her sobs, I knew something must be wrong.  “Why are you scared?”

“There’s something in my room!”

“What is it?”

“I don’t know!  I think it’s a rat!”

I hurried up the ladder and she threw back the curtain door.  I looked inside and, sure enough, I saw a large furry creature huddled on the floor.  What should I do?  “Hannah, stay away from your room.  I’ll get Lah Cher.”  The thought that a healthy rat wouldn’t just sit there like that did cross my mind as I hurried back to the railing.

Several of our girl students sat downstairs in the shade under the living room floor.  Maybe one of them could get Lah Cher while I stayed with Hannah and Destiny.  “Rat.”  I said, “Do you understand rat?”  They stared back at me, then one nodded her head and a smile of comprehension lit her face.  “I need Lah Cher to come.  It is in Hannah’s room.”  But no one got up, so I decided to get Lah Cher myself.  Then I saw Esther Paw crossing the bridge.  I hurried to meet her.  “Esther Paw, do you understand rat?  Rat?  I need Lah Cher to come kill a rat in Hannah’s room.”  She also stared at me blankly until one of the other girls under the house said something.  “Oh, yes, teacher!  I understand.”  She turned around and hurried back up the hill.

A few minutes later, wondering what was taking Lah Cher so long, I looked up the hill and saw Esther Paw struggling to haul the whiteboard down all by herself.  I started laughing.  Then I noticed Memewah up by Jason’s house.  “Memewah!  There is a rat in Hannah’s room.  Tell Lah Cher to come kill it!”  Memewah started shouting and Lah Cher came running as fast as he could.  He captured the creature, which proved to be something other than a rat.  It was about a foot in length, and had semi-long brown fur, a four-inch rat-like tale, and large buckteeth.  It reminded me more of woodchuck.  After we all looked at it, he took it and disposed of it.  Then Esther Paw, the other girls, and I all looked at each other and laughed.  Even though we all babbled on in our own languages, we understood perfectly what we were talking about – the confusion between “rat” and “whiteboard.”

When Daddy and Momo finally returned that evening, we certainly had story to tell!


  1. How fun 🙂 so you never did identify the creature? perhaps something like a muskrat? Miss you Sarah.



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