Ghost House (part 2)

Of course, I don't really believe in 'ghosts', nor that a house can be 'haunted', but that doesn't mean there weren't disturbing things present. An abandoned shed out back was teeming with fast-moving tarantula-like spiders, so I spent the very first week, spraying them and their horrible offspring to death. Then I exultantly tore down the entire shed, ridding the earth of its presence forever! 

I found a four-foot long snake-skin up in the attic, left behind, most likely, after a winter's hibernation. So I spent the next few days plugging up slots along the roof line where he must have crawled through. It was summer, after all. He was gone. I certainly hoped so anyway; otherwise I was sealing him in! 

And then there was the usual assortment of tropical things 'haunting' the house itself: beetles, roaches, centipedes and spiders. I sprayed, swatted, shooed and squashed until the place began to look fairly decent, then made sure all the windows and doors were sealed. 

For the rest of those months I worked on that dismal kitchen: built cabinets and counters, laid linoleum and dropped a ceiling. It was quite an undertaking and a quite a transformation. 

I didn't work alone; missionary friends would come down to help whenever they could: painting, laying floors, tiling walls. They are dear faithful friends, all of them: I still feel very indebted to them. 

There was one more thing 'haunting' the house: a 'ghost-shelf' on the living room wall. They are often referred to as 'god-shelves' actually, but this one was especially devoted to the ghosts of the two who had died in the home. Often I would show up for work and find fresh joss smoking up from it. 

Every week our landlord, Mr. Lai and his wife, would show up to bow before the shelf, lay their offerings upon it and plant a few more joss sticks into the ashes. They did all this with the same sad, nervous reverence so common to those who fear the dead. 

The 'ghost-shelf' made me uncomfortable. "I can't move my family in until it is removed," I kept warning Mr. Lai. "Oh, don't worry teacher, it will be gone before you're done working here." 

Well, I certainly hoped so. Many times I would be noising away with a hammer or a drill in one of the other rooms, while poor Mr. and Mrs. Lai would be standing there trying to honor the dead. Always I wanted to stop my work and give them a few moments of peace, but dear old Mr. Lai would have none of it. He would pick up on my silence and shout out to me:  

"Don't stop your work, Teacher, you're not bothering us. Just keep on, keep on!" And then—sadly—"This is nothing. We'll be done in just a few minutes." He somehow seemed embarrassed by it all; and very weary of it too! 

Throughout that long, hot summer I had been making the tedious 100-mile trip down from Taipei and back again each day. I was just too hot, sweaty and dirty at the end of the day to even think of spending the night. But when I finally got a shower installed, I decided it was time: I took a change of clothes and a cheap folding beach lounge and headed back down, glad to be done with the constant commute. After all, there was still a lot of work to be done and time was running out. 

That night, I slept soundly enough: as good as can be expected, I suppose, for someone sleeping in their clothes on a beach chair. But very early the next morning, I was awakened by the sound of voices! And the voices were in the house! For just the briefest moment, I assure you, the thought of a "haunted house" crossed my mind. 

And then I finally made out the words (in Mandarin, of course): "He's here," I heard someone say. "He did it!" 

They were neighbors. They had come in through the unlocked door; past the living room, down the hall to stand at the bedroom doorway and congratulate me: "You did it," they cheered. "You spent the night!" 

There must have been some kind of neighborhood betting pool on whether or not I could make it through one night. 

I didn't do it right then, but later we got to explain to many of them the glorious truth of the Christian: he shares his life—and his home as well!—with a 'holy ghost': the wonderful, comforting Spirit of God. And he never, ever has to be afraid. "Greater is He that is in you," remember, "than he that is in the world!" 1 Jn 4:4 

So good to worship with you each week. 

Next! See you there! RAS 

Of course, I don't really believe in 'ghosts', nor that a house can be 'haunted', but that doesn't mean there weren't disturbing things present. An abandoned shed out back was teeming with fast-moving tarantula-like spiders, so I spent the very first week, spraying them and their horrible offspring to death. Then I exultantly tore down the entire shed, ridding the earth of its presence forever! 

I found a four-foot long snake-skin up in the attic, left behind, most likely, after a winter's hibernation. So I spent the next few days plugging up slots along the roof line where he must have crawled through. It was summer, after all. He was gone. I certainly hoped so anyway; otherwise I was sealing him in! 

And then there was the usual assortment of tropical things 'haunting' the house itself: beetles, roaches, centipedes and spiders. I sprayed, swatted, shooed and squashed until the place began to look fairly decent, then made sure all the windows and doors were sealed. 

For the rest of those months I worked on that dismal kitchen: built cabinets and counters, laid linoleum and dropped a ceiling. It was quite an undertaking and a quite a transformation. 

I didn't work alone; missionary friends would come down to help whenever they could: painting, laying floors, tiling walls. They are dear faithful friends, all of them: I still feel very indebted to them. 

There was one more thing 'haunting' the house: a 'ghost-shelf' on the living room wall. They are often referred to as 'god-shelves' actually, but this one was especially devoted to the ghosts of the two who had died in the home. Often I would show up for work and find fresh joss smoking up from it. 

Every week our landlord, Mr. Lai and his wife, would show up to bow before the shelf, lay their offerings upon it and plant a few more joss sticks into the ashes. They did all this with the same sad, nervous reverence so common to those who fear the dead. 

The 'ghost-shelf' made me uncomfortable. "I can't move my family in until it is removed," I kept warning Mr. Lai. "Oh, don't worry teacher, it will be gone before you're done working here." 

Well, I certainly hoped so. Many times I would be noising away with a hammer or a drill in one of the other rooms, while poor Mr. and Mrs. Lai would be standing there trying to honor the dead. Always I wanted to stop my work and give them a few moments of peace, but dear old Mr. Lai would have none of it. He would pick up on my silence and shout out to me:  

"Don't stop your work, Teacher, you're not bothering us. Just keep on, keep on!" And then—sadly—"This is nothing. We'll be done in just a few minutes." He somehow seemed embarrassed by it all; and very weary of it too! 

Throughout that long, hot summer I had been making the tedious 100-mile trip down from Taipei and back again each day. I was just too hot, sweaty and dirty at the end of the day to even think of spending the night. But when I finally got a shower installed, I decided it was time: I took a change of clothes and a cheap folding beach lounge and headed back down, glad to be done with the constant commute. After all, there was still a lot of work to be done and time was running out. 

That night, I slept soundly enough: as good as can be expected, I suppose, for someone sleeping in their clothes on a beach chair. But very early the next morning, I was awakened by the sound of voices! And the voices were in the house! For just the briefest moment, I assure you, the thought of a "haunted house" crossed my mind. 

And then I finally made out the words (in Mandarin, of course): "He's here," I heard someone say. "He did it!" 

They were neighbors. They had come in through the unlocked door; past the living room, down the hall to stand at the bedroom doorway and congratulate me: "You did it," they cheered. "You spent the night!" 

There must have been some kind of neighborhood betting pool on whether or not I could make it through one night. 

I didn't do it right then, but later we got to explain to many of them the glorious truth of the Christian: he shares his life—and his home as well!—with a 'holy ghost': the wonderful, comforting Spirit of God. And he never, ever has to be afraid. "Greater is He that is in you," remember, "than he that is in the world!" 1 Jn 4:4 

So good to worship with you each week. 

Next! See you there! RAS 

It's Straight...and It's Narrow
The Things We Do Have!