People want to know more about us and I kind of understand that.
My wife’s name is Janice. We have a cute little daughter named Adilene Grace and a handsome little baby boy named Elliot Adrian.
I struggle with being as outgoing as my wife. After all before God pointed me in her direction, I was planning on intentionally becoming a hermit in Alaska (I even bought land on the Kenai Peninsula). I was going to sit in front of a crackling fire with my feet slipped into rabbit fur moccasins while writing kid’s books, or maybe short, scathing political tirades that no one would publish. My A-frame, off the grid cabin would be overlooking a small stream framed by pine trees and the occasional moose or lost hillbilly. God, however, had bigger plans for my life and I’m glad he did (in retrospect).
Our story started with Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, but that’s the long version. I’ll shorten it a bit.
A little about me:
I was born into a fairly conservative Mennonite family in Bowmansville, Pennsylvania. I had two brothers at that time (a third brother came along about 13 years after I was born much to the surprise of everyone). My older brother, Matt, became famous when he wrote books about his trips to Alaska. I only bring that up because I have people ask me often if I’m related to “that crazy Snader guy who lives in Alaska?” So let me set it straight: Yes. Yes I am. He’s my brother.
I had a normal childhood in most aspects. What is normal? I had good parents who worked hard to give us a good life. We never had much money but by the grace of God, my hard working trucker dad, and the frugal efforts of my mother, we made it work.
I won’t bore you with all the details but life came and went and I got older. I got saved at a good old revival service at our church when I was about 13. It was one of the last services of the week and I was so uncomfortable by this time that I was gnawing on the back of the wooden pew in front of me (not literally – I’m using exaggeration to make a point). To accept Christ I had to stand up in church. I was a shy kid so death was more preferable than standing up in a church with about 250 people in it. However, my tongue was full of splinters from all my nervous chewing and so I resigned myself to the conviction in my soul. I got saved!
I knew from little on up that I wanted to be a missionary. I read every book about missionaries I could get my hands on. The adventure! I loved the idea of traveling to uncharted wilderness, getting chased by elephants, preaching to a crowd of headhunters, praying my way out of plane wrecks and poisonous snake bites. Looking back, I was in love with the idea of adventure much more than I was concerned for the lost people in the world. Still, God used my interests to ignite a spark in my heart that wouldn’t die (although the flame certainly flickered at times).
And airplanes! Boy, oh boy did I love airplanes. I remember making my first model airplane out of an aluminum soda can (or pop can, depending on your geography) and then throwing it through the air. It flew like a poorly designed paper weight. I was perplexed as to why it didn’t soar through the air like a butterfly. This started a journey of discovery as to the complexity of flight. Later, I made a model airplane out of sheets of 2″ thick blue foam insulation. I carefully carved out the wings and rudder and tail section. Then I set it down in the grass and spray painted it red. Red is an awesome color! But when I came back my model airplane was just a little pile of shriveled up garbage in the grass. As it turns out, spray paint eats foam at a furious rate. Don’t spray paint foam airplanes!
I still can’t believe that God has called us to such an exciting journey. I know that the road may be rough and there will be a few bad days, but like they advised me at MMS Aviation: “Don’t hoard your excitement for later. Share it!”
A little bit about my wife:
My wife doesn’t consider sitting down and blogging about her life a good time, so I will take it upon myself to relay her story to you in incredible factual detail (although my opinions may be biased just a tad)…
Janice was born the awesomest baby ever born (besides Jesus, obviously). She was born in Paraguay which you may recognize as a foreign country (more specifically, a country in South America). She was born a Detweiler, which isn’t a very Spanish name. How her family ended up in Paraguay is a fascinating story but I will sum it up so as to save time (I’m sitting at a coffee shop and must finish this blog before I run out of coffee).
Janice’s grandparents (on her mother’s side) were Old Order Amish and had 14 children. When half the children were grown and married, Janice’s grandma died leaving only grandpa and 7 children still at home. He became certain that America was going to be judged by God and destroyed with fire and brimstone and so plans were set in motion to take the 7 unmarried children (Janice’s mom was the oldest of this group) to Paraguay, a country he hardly knew anything about. Some other Old Order families went along. They had found “promising” land through a dubious contact and found out upon arrival that the land they were promised was a desolate wasteland. There was a large Russian Mennonite colony that found out about their plans. “You can’t go out there this time of year or you’ll definitely die,” the Russian Mennonites said. Thankfully, the Amish group heeded their advice and moved to the Russian Mennonite’s colony for a few years to learn the lay of the land. Janice’s mom met her dad in Paraguay. Janice’s dad’s family were there for some time although her dad, Elmer, is originally from Pennsylvania.
That’s just a cross section of the family’s story (there’s a book written about it somewhere) but eventually the Detweiler family permanently moved to Michigan when Janice was about three years old. She grew up there, went to school there, and got bossed around by her brothers and sister a lot (according to her).
Janice got saved on the living room couch when she was eight years old. She had just lost a brother to cancer and was so miserable and convicted about her own state of salvation that she finally accepted Christ. Her mother would be her mentor as she grew in her faith (thank God for good mothers!) and is still a giant woman (figuratively speaking) of the faith. There are few people on this earth who have weathered as many storms as Janice’s mom and I’m thankful my wife is becoming more like mother-in-law.
The Detweilers lived on a farm in Colon, Michigan. Farm life is great for kids but it can be dangerous as well. When Janice was 12, her dress was caught in a tractor PTO. It grabbed her and pulled her around twice before a hired hand managed to shut the tractor off. The PTO had pulled Janice’s dress up around her neck against the PTO shaft. Half a second more and her neck would’ve been broken! Janice was rushed to the hospital with a severely dislocated shoulder and lots of burns from the dress being pulled over her body so quickly. She says the brush burns hurt worse than anything else did. She also remembers being scared because her dad was driving way too fast on the way to the hospital (I don’t blame him).
Janice has felt the call to missionary work her whole life. Plus, her worldview was wider than some because of the all the Paraguayan influences. Her older brothers were involved in missions as well and so she naturally had the desire and awareness of the needs in the world. She was planning on getting a degree to teach English as a second language and then move to Thailand when I came along and disrupted her plans. She claims that she doesn’t mind but some days I’m pretty sure that she got the short end of this deal.
I always felt like Janice has had good pioneer woman training. Her mom is always making homemade cheese, cottage cheese, keifer, chipas, or other strange foods, some with Paraguayan origins and some just made up on the spot (I suspect). She’s constantly brewing, concocting, manufacturing, or taking herbal remedies of various and strange forms. I was dubious at first and wondered if these were FDA approved, or even safe to ingest – let alone good for what ailed me, yet I’m slowly coming to realize that I’m way too much of a city slicker. Turns out, many of the potions seem to work really well although I still approach every bubbling pot on my mother in law’s stove with an air of caution.
How we met:
So how did I get so lucky? I ask myself that question sometimes.
We both went on WATER. WATER is an acronym for World Awareness Training in Evangelistic Responsibilities. It’s a six week short term mission program hosted by Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute in central Pennsylvania (details: click here). You have one week of classes and team building exercises, then you have five weeks where you go out into the world to established Anabaptist missions and get a first hand taste of the mission field. We both attended this program in the same year. Truth be told, I don’t remember Janice from WATER. I attended when I was 19 years old and she was 20. However, somewhere along the line we both became friends on Facebook (how cliche…) and that kept us in touch.
The first time I really remember being attracted to Janice was when she posted a picture of four or five dead raccoons on her Facebook page with a caption proudly proclaiming how she was jogging and saw a tree full of raccoons. Naturally she turned around, grabbed a shotgun, and killed all of them, (only three). As a farmer, raccoons were a bane of her existence. I was taken aback. I didn’t know any girls who would do something like that. I would get along with this girl, I remember thinking. I was intrigued but quickly cast off any thought of relationship. She lived in Michigan after all, and she had no idea who I was.
Two years later I still hadn’t forgotten about her. I would post some random, seemingly innocent comments on some of her pictures and she would reply, seemingly innocently. I had noticed that she seemed to like a lot of the same things I did: kayaking, photography, missions, etc. I was trying to come up with some way to casually show up at her doorstep and maybe get more information about her. Facebook, after all, isn’t always an honest representation of a person’s character. Turns out it’s pretty hard to casually show up at someone’s door 500 miles away.
It’s hard to explain but God laid it on my heart, specifically, that I was to start dating. This surprised me. I was expecting to be a bachelor all my life but the bachelor life was starting to get old (man cannot live on macaroni and cheese). The problem was my lack of charm and charisma. Who would say yes? I came up with a list of women I respected and figured I would go down through the list. They would all say “NO!” and then I could tell God I tried and move on with my comfortable single life. Janice was first. I looked at the list and thought, Nah, she’s not saying yes. She doesn’t even know who I am. Skip Janice. But I kept thinking What if I marry someone else? I’ll wonder my whole life what would’ve happened if she said yes.
I finally impulsively asked her, via Facebook Messenger, if she would consider going out to coffee with me in Michigan. Nothing formal, I was just driving 500 miles to drink a cup of coffee with her. No sweat. She tentatively agreed. I started sweating. I wasn’t expecting her to say yes.
As it turns out, Janice kept up to date with my blog posts and actually knew who I was. In fact, she remembers telling God at one point specifically that she would like to date someone like Josh. I know, right?! She’s a crazy person.
So we began dating. I drove to her house every other weekend for nearly a year. That’s almost 2,000 miles a month. Needless to say, it helped me decide pretty quick if I wanted to marry this woman or not.
I did marry her and two years later, here we are!
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