Glenn and I have joked often that living in this apartment has been a bit of preparation for life overseas. We have had several different reasons for this.
The first thing was the bugs. We have had to deal with cockroaches when we lived in TN. Thankfully we haven't had to deal with them since moving to NY. Mosquitoes and flies are normal summer bugs no big deal 8ish months out of the year here in NY. Since moving into this apartment we have encountered a few bugs we have never had to deal with before. The first was pantry moths. When I was wiping down the cupboards before putting my stuff in I noticed some weird cardboard triangles with a few bugs stuck to the glue. I thought, "That's gross, I am going to throw them away." and I did. Little did I know that the apartment really needed those pantry moth traps when I saw those yucky little bugs flying around my kitchen all the time and getting into my dry goods. After several months of keeping everything really well sealed and finding all their egg laying spots and cleaning everything up meticulously we finally were free of them. (It also got colder, time will tell if we have another problem with them this spring.) The other bug we had to deal with since moving in is bed bugs that we picked up possibly on our trip to PA. We started to notice the tell tale breakfast lunch and dinner bites on our bodies and spent a lot of money on chemicals and supplies to eradicate them and then spent most of the summer throwing out, boiling, freezing, and steaming everything we owned. We have defeated them (I guess it hasn't been 18 months yet but it has been at least 7-8 months since we have had any bites.) The other bugs are these little tiny black flying bugs that show up occasionally and often are found near our plants. I don't know what they are and they have not been nearly as bothersome as the other two.
Another thing was the noise. We live on a really quiet street so it isn't street noise but our former upstairs neighbor used to exercise regularly (we timed our schooling by his indoor running schedule which was great! "Listen, he's running. Must be time for lunch."). He also played the bongo drums, at random times, often late at night. It was funny having noisier neighbors upstairs because it made us wonder what we must have sounded like when we have been the upstairs neighbors :)
Most recently it has been the smoke. Our former neighbors moved for her new job out west and we have had new neighbors move in. They smoke. It drifts into our apartment. It is really bad when you open the back kitchen door. That is about the only time I notice it because I am here all the time. Glenn notices it really bad whenever he comes home. It filters into our closets so our clothes are starting to smell like smoke. We are not really sure what to do. When we first started noticing we asked ourselves, "If we were in Bangladesh and we had neighbors that smoked what would we do?" The answer was easy, nothing, because honestly we would be surprised not to have neighbors that smoked but here it's a different question. The laws in Onondaga county allow landlords to not allow smoking in their rental properties. We battled within ourselves. We want to be a light to this young couple and their two little ones, show Jesus to them. On the other hand we value our health and the health of our children. The effects of second hand smoke are significant and the kids and I are home almost 24-7. Also, Glenn doesn't want to smell like smoke when he is working with his patients next year. At this point we are still trying to figure out what to do. We have talked to our landlord. He had no idea that they smoked. He knew that they had two little kids and assumed that they wouldn't smoke around them. He told us that he would do what he could and that he really liked having us as tenants and would like to keep us but wouldn't hold us to our lease if we found an apartment with non-smoking neighbors to move into.
I don't know what God is preparing us for but I know that every circumstance that He allows into our lives He has a purpose for it. We are praying for wisdom as to how to best glorify Him them.