Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Twenty-six Mice Under the Oven

The first time my wife and I saw the parsonage in our first full-time ministry, it was like viewing the White House. "That," I said proudly, "is going to be our new home." Ahhhhhhh. We were smitten. Then reality set in, right after we moved, and we discovered that our new home came with as many landlords as church members, not to mention rules and expectations. For example, we were expected not to use one of the bedrooms. It was to remain perpetually as a "prophet's chamber" for any visiting preacher or missionary. So, in spite of the fact that we could have really used the room, we dutifully left it untouched except for the rare visitor. We've always had odd experiences with parsonages, and we've learned that our experience is not exceptional. One house we lived in was located so close to the church building that our basement (it was a bi-level house) was used for church offices and Sunday School rooms. This had a number of unintended consequences. First, we did not have privacy, especially on Sunday morning when people began to stream into their "classrooms." Vacation Bible School became a real adventure, as there were people in and out of our house at all hours. Add to that the fact that our church clerk had a key to the house but expected us to keep our home unlocked so she could come and go as she pleased. She had no idea how often we came close to dialing 911 when we heard the "intruder" in the basement. Then there was the parsonage where the previous pastor's wife had used a bedroom to dry fruit from her garden. If that wasn't enough, the house was overrun with mice. I quickly learned that the best place to catch them was -believe it or not- in the stove, especially in the drawer under the oven. I routinely emptied the traps each morning. After I caught twenty-six mice, I quit counting, but I kept catching mice. I have no idea how many traps - or mice - I went through. But that was not the worst place we ever inhabited. That honor probably belongs to the little shack where we lived before moving into the "mouse palace." The shack was owned and leased by a church member and was a temporary residence for us until (get this!) the church could clean out the parsonage for us. (Given the number of mice I caught, I wonder what they cleaned out.) The shack was just that. When the church member/landlord put up a new wood-framed screen door for us, I let him know it wouldn't close properly and needed to be remounted. No problem. He showed up the next day to fix everything - with an axe!! He might have noticed the stunned, speechless expression on my face as he committed atrocities on the door, chopping and flailing until the wounded door surrendered and closed. He asked me if there was anything else to fix. All I could do is look at the axe and declare "No" rather cautiously. If you've never lived in a parsonage, you just don't know what you're missing.

1 comment:

  1. that's terrible. :( I think our worst experiences were shag green carpet and bats. :( and termites. I never thought about all the things that could possibly go on in parsonages. We've only lived in two. The last one had really short stairs and everyone in my family fell down them at least once, except for me, and that's only because my room was downstairs!! They hurt themselves pretty badly. :( But I believe for the most part that these homes were blessings.