Monday, April 26, 2010


When we first arrived here, I commented to Ashley about the plentitude of ants in our house. She replied, “Ahhh, the ants. In your first year, you will say ‘Ugh! Ants.’ In your second year, your will say, ‘Hmmm, ants.’ And In your third year, you will say, ‘Yum, ants!’”

Yes, I am often found scolding the ants for being everywhere in our house. “Ugh!” is a common sound heard. But the other day, I pulled out the milk from the fridge and there were some tiny little ants floating around. Not wanting to waste the precious commodity of milk, I simply heated it up, frothed it with our battery aerolatte, and poured it in my coffee. “Yum, ants!”

Last Friday night, we received a frantic call for the keys to the Myrhes’ house to retrieve the potent ant killer as there was a mpali invastion to Heidi’s room. These biting ants, also called safari ants by our friends in Kenya, form huge ranks to walk in a serious line to eat anything in their way. From what I have heard, the bite of the leader mpalis can draw blood. So, as I waited for Travis and Heidi to return with the ant killer, I penned this little poem.

Ode to the Ants

Ants, oh, ants

Why do you come around?

Moving earth and home

In Nyahuka town.

You tiny little sugar ant

You vex me in the way,

I find you absolutely everywhere

All the night and day.

The medium black ants,

Who much prefer the trees

You don’t seem to have the need to be inside

So stay up there, would you please?

The fierce and biting mpali,

Who marches in a line

Your pinchers are so sharp and big

I’ve got shivers on my spine.

The only way to be rid of you

Is with kerosene or a spray.

Ugandans have to move from their hut

Only to return the next day.

We know you are industrious

And we know you are strong.

But would you kindly take a break?

Would it be so wrong?

You are walking in the kitchen,

And strolling in my pantry

You are waltzing across the counter,

Like a determined little infantry

You are in my refrigerator

Where I thought you’d be too cold

And even in my underwear,

How could you be so bold?

I’ll take a lesson from the wisdom

of the man called Agur

if, like the ant, you work hard and plan ahead

you will not end up a beggar!

I did not claim that it was a good poem. What else is there to do in Bundibugyo on a Friday night but write bad poems about ants?


  1. Oh Amy!!! I don't know whether to laugh or cry!!! You are so funny! I'll pray!!! There must be a "good" reason for these ants...??? I just think of the fleas in "The Hiding Place" and how the fleas tormented the concentration camp prisoners, but also served to keep the guards out of their living quarters... thus they could meet for Bible Study and share the Gospel. I know it's a stretch but I pray these ants lead to good things - perhaps more intimately bonded community and new friendships as you unite to keep the ants in line, er, I guess out of line in this case ;) Love you lots!!!!! Love, Mary vonRosenberg

  2. you are too cute! of course - what else is there to do on a friday night but write a poem about the ants that are invading your and others' houses?!?! :)

  3. Boy do I miss you!! You know how much I "love" anything creepy and crawly... so now you're my hero. Ant milk. I love it. The poem is a keeper. In our thoughts and prayers every morning. I asked Colin what exactly we should pray for you guys this morning. His response: Mom, they're missionaries!! Pray for EVERYTHING. And we did. Love you, Sis. Anj

  4. It's me, Liz. Love the poem!!! Made me laugh and smile. The kids and I have been having some discussions about ants lately! They are such industrious things-- and can be powerful in groups! We have tons of fire ants around our house... but not in the milk yet : )
    I will definitely pray y'all never have an army ant intrusion.
    We love you Johnsons...

  5. oh. my. gosh. i love this post. i can relate to this post. i half wish i had written this post myself because i've battled every size of ant imaginable. i freaking CRIED over this post with laughter and maybe a smidge of gratitude that i've temporarily escaped the african antfest- i left some bananas out on the counter today for HOURS and NO ANTS SHOWED UP! incredible! how luxurious it is to live in america!

    love you two and think of you often. are we still on for kilimanjaro? because i've been working out with that in mind!!! we can do it!!!