Home > Missionary Life > Kerosene & Cleaning Day!

Kerosene & Cleaning Day!

Cleaning is cleaning, right? Or is it? Living in the middle of the jungle in a mud and pole house with a palm roof and cement floors brought new methods of cleaning than I’d previously been accustomed to. For example, do you know how to seal a cement floor when chemical sealers are unavailable? I do now!

Kerosene and wax. You take those two ingredients, put them in a gallon-sized tin can over the gas burner on your stove and heat them until the wax melts. Then you’re down on your hands and knees with a rag smearing your homemade cement sealer over the floor. And it really works!

Kerosene and wax melting on the gas burner? Really, it is safe. I did it many, many times. Of course, there was that one time…

The kitchen was buzzing with activity. A team was visiting to help with a project in the village. Several ladies were working on desserts. I had one twin on my hip and the other one crawling around my feet as I waited for the candles to melt into the kerosene. I wanted to get the floors done before lunch.

I glanced into the can to see how the candles were coming, then glanced at my watch. We were still on schedule. Juggling the twin on my hip I was clearing counters when the kerosene burst into flames. That was a first for me. Quickly I turned off the flame and topped the can in a successful attempt at smothering the fire.

Never having had that happen before I checked with more seasoned missionaries than myself. They said though it was not the norm, it could happen. That was enough for me. Back at the kitchen, I made sure no kerosene or wax was on the outside of the can, turned the flame back on and headed for a quick pit stop while the candles continued to melt.

Remember, this was a jungle house with jungle construction. The bathroom adjacent to the kitchen was one of the few rooms with a ceiling, but still there was a gap between the wall and the ceiling. It was through that gap that I suddenly saw flames licking upwards.

“Turn off the gas, then top that can!” I yelled out from the bathroom. Those in the kitchen complied.

Thankfully the wax was melted by then and I sealed the floors.

Around lunch time my husband arrived home and I told him the story. His response sent a shudder down my spine: “That wasn’t kerosene, that was aviation fuel!”

Looking back at the can and knowing what I then knew, I could see the faint, mostly worn off markings that should have indicated that aviation fuel had been put into a kerosene can.

For the rest of the day I kept thanking God for protecting me from myself!

Categories: Missionary Life
  1. February 3, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    >LOL! I was wondering what was happening. I used kerosene and candles all the time and never had it burst into flames!!! Amazing the things we all survived!

  2. February 4, 2009 at 3:05 am

    >A definite example of God’s grace. He obviously still had a purpose for me on this earth!

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