"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson

April 17, 2015
Invader
by Jeff Lindsay

Several times in my life I've had unpleasant experiences in doing battle with rodents. These creatures can be sources of great losses in the food chain while also spreading disease.

Here in China, my first week or two of shopping experiences were punctuated with the surprise of seeing rats scurrying across a supermarket floor. Employees generally seemed unconcerned, though some customers were alarmed.

After that, I've rarely seen rats, at least not in Shanghai, until I was face to face with one in my own kitchen.

We suspected that something was afoot in our apartment in a beautiful, clean complex in Shanghai's Gubei/Hongqiao region when we came home from church one day and noticed that tangerine sitting on our living room table had been torn open, with small long peel fragments nearby.

On the glass surface below it, I could see tiny footprints. Something had come into our living room to dine. This was unsettling.

Assuming it was mice, I began looking for how they could have come in or where they were dwelling, but could find no clue. Our apartment is small and easy to survey, and there weren't any obvious places for an intruder to come through.

But I bought mouse traps, including adhesive-covered panels, a cage with a sensitive door that shuts when bait is touched inside, and some rather frightening heavy-gauge spring-based mousetraps that could break a human finger.

I couldn't find any place with the relatively safe and effective mousetraps I am used to in the States. But with this arsenal of tools, I set traps for several nights trying to catch the intruder, but caught nothing. The adhesive board, though, appeared to have been touched, but whatever stepped onto it had just pulled itself free. No luck.

I wondered if it was all just a fluke and if the invader had gone. Then one morning, as I was putting away some oil, the lid to the oil bottle fell at the side of our refrigerator. I couldn't find it. I moved the whole refrigerator out looking for it, and that's when I noticed a suspicious pile of peanut shells under the refrigerator.

Upon further inspection, I found a hole in the baseboard at the back near the refrigerator. This was obviously the entry point from which the invasion to our living room had been launched. I set traps around that area, but still caught nothing. Finally I just plugged the hole with aluminum foil and thought that would do the trick.

Later that week, I went into the kitchen in the middle of the night, maybe around 3 AM. I think I was thirsty or something. As I stepped into the kitchen area, I heard a noise and then I saw something scurry up a couple of shelves on the side of the kitchen where we keep some bread. It was a long and quite agile rat.

I closed the sliding glass door to the kitchen and the critter suddenly dived under a free-standing cabinet with drawers. I could see that there was a new hole in a baseboard (almost paper thin material, it turns out) that he must have chewed through to create his own opening into our kitchen.

There were two of us in this room. One thief and one victim. It was time to end this. I grabbed some aluminum foil and plugged up the new hole. I took my mighty bone-crushing mousetraps and set them in front of the hole, so in case the rat stepped on them on his way back home, I'd have him.

I also set up the cage in case he ran into it on his way back home. And then I grabbed weapon: a frying pan.

This unfortunate battle was something of a cage fight, I suppose. I was surprised by the tense emotions and the adrenalin, but there was risk of being bitten or having the thief escape, so I wanted to make sure I won this battle. I did, but it was ugly. When I looked under the cabinet to try to shoo out the rat, there was nothing there. He had a way to get up into a drawer where we kept a lot of our favorite foods.

When I opened the drawer, he flew out and scrambled straight toward his home. What panic he must have faced as he ran at the hole time after time, colliding with the wad of foil that left him with no hope of escape. In that furious scramble, he trounced all over my mousetraps, which remained wide open, unwilling to release their fury.

The rat soon turned away to flee elsewhere, when the pan came down. I had him pinned against the tile floor. I would have to apply force and wait. It was unpleasant. I took no joy in ending his life.

As I looked into his eyes of his head that protruded from under the pan, I could imagine that he was a creature in many ways like you and me, doing the things he is designed to do. Maybe we share 95% of our genes. But in spite of what we had in common, he was an invader and a threat to our health. We could not peacefully coexist, not in my kitchen. Now coexistence isn't happening there, not for him.

The encounter with the rat is a reminder of the need to be diligent in reducing the access that enemies may have into our lives. Plug holes and ways of entry. Watch for signs of invasion and don't shrug them off, as too many people do in some parts of the world ("it's just an animal," "nothing to worry about," "it's all natural," "it's never hurt me").

When signs of invasion are found, look for and overcome the weakness that allows the invader in. Root it out.

There are various invaders in our lives, other threats to our health and well-being. The most dangerous may be those who, like Lucifer himself, have a great deal in common with us.

Fellow sons and daughters of God may be far more sinister than any rat, for the rat simply carries out its programmed functions, but some souls choose to rebel against God and, in a sense, against their nature, abusing the gift of free agency.

Some choose to be thieves and, like my rat, may take valuable things from your home. Others choose to go after our most precious gifts with a goal of exploiting or harming us.

Parents who ignore the risk their children face with online friends in lax environments without adequate rules and monitoring may find, as one friend of mine did, that their child has been caught up in a world of pornography and abusive, harmful relationships.

Those of us who ignore the signs in our lives of inappropriate tendencies or unwise relationships may find the adversary has left more than a few droppings in the chambers of our soul. His invasions can become pervasive and painful or even nearly impossible to fully eradicate, especially when we are slow to react to the early warning signs.

Too many of the lessons learned in mortality come too late, after great damage has been done. This is why we need constant outside guidance and advice to help us avoid the many threats around us, learning from the experiences of others who are wiser. This is why we need General Conference and our regular Church meetings and scripture study to teach us and warn us of threats that we face.

There is profound guidance even in some of the simplest of talks and lessons that can help us, if we listen to the Spirit, so that we can be sensitive to warning signs in our lives of threats to our spiritual welfare and the welfare of those we love.

As we listen and learn, we can get ideas on how to better defend our homes and our loves, and better root out the invasion of adversary, that great rat and sly invader whose goal is our destruction and sorrow. We cannot peacefully coexist with him. As we learn in the temple, he truly needs to be driven out from our lives.

For more from Jeff Lindsay, see Mormanity at http://mormanity.blogspot.com and his Mormon Answers section at http://jefflindsay.com/LDSFAQ/.


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About Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay has been defending the Church on the Internet since 1994, when he launched his LDSFAQ website under JeffLindsay.com. He has also long been blogging about LDS matters on the blog Mormanity (mormanity.blogspot.com). Jeff is a longtime resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, who recently moved to Shanghai, China, with his wife, Kendra. He works for an Asian corporation as head of intellectual property. Jeff and Kendra are the parents of 4 boys, 3 married and the the youngest on a mission.

He is a former innovation and IP consultant, a former professor, and former Corporate Patent Strategist and Senior Research Fellow for a multinational corporation.

Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins and Mukund Karanjikar are authors of the book Conquering Innovation Fatigue (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

Jeff has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University and is a registered US patent agent. He has more than 100 granted US patents and is author of numerous publications. Jeff's hobbies include photography, amateur magic, writing, and Mandarin Chinese.

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