Palm Trees & Plagues

My boss found a truck he had wanted in Florida and so he sent us down to get it. My boss is Amish and so he’s not allowed to fly, although there does seem to be a loophole for potential life threatening situations such as a ride on an emergency medical helicopter. Of course, riding a Medi-vac from Indiana to Florida would be mildly impractical – not to mention it’s difficult to fake such a huge medical crisis – and so my boss sent us to go pick it up for him since our church allows us to fly Allegiant Air, a discount regional airline.

My boss was kind enough to pay for the whole family to fly to Florida. It is nice to have Janice help me drive home. Plus, Adilene is still under two years of age so she flies free if she sits on a lap. The problem is that Janice’s lap is getting smaller the closer she gets to her due date but trying to pry Adi off of Janice is like trying to pry an octopus off of a freshly opened can of tuna. If you manage to get two tentacles off, there’s like eight more to go and as soon as you let go of the two you have so you can grab some more, the free tentacles just suck themselves fast to the can of tuna again. I don’t really know how many tentacles an octopus has but a toddler always has eight more than you do. If you do manage to get Adi off of Janice then you have to deal with the aftermath. In this day and age I always feel conspicuous when I’m in an airport dragging a wailing toddler away from her mother. “I promise you I’m her dad and legitimate guardian. Nothing to see here,” I mutter to onlookers waiting at their gate as Adi’s screams resonate off of the cement pillars around me. Of course that’s what any kidnapper would say.

It doesn’t help that Adi developed a fever the night before we left for Florida. It seems like Satan’s ears tingle when he hears the Snader’s are going to travel. “Time to open up a can of plague. Maybe this time they’ll give up on life and settle into comfortable obscurity.” Lucky for us, Jesus is on our side! I do feel like Janice and I have learned to communicate better during stressful situations. Two years ago if we were traveling with a baby who had a fever, we’d be all out of sorts. Janice would be on the verge of crying but trying her best to hide it and I’d have the somber presence of a volcano before an eruption. That’s what happens if you handle Satan’s plagues correctly, you become better at being Christians. Now, don’t get me wrong, we acted very un-Christian at times along the way but that’s part of the process. It’s like the engineering process. God builds a Christian and then exposes it to stress so the Christian’s weaknesses are exposed. Then God tweaks the design and the Christian is better because of it. Finally God has a usable product. Good thing Jesus (and Janice) also offers forgiveness along the way.

Of course, most times we make plenty of our own problems without Satan even being involved. For example we flew into Fort Lauderdale. This didn’t strike me as a problem until we were taxiing unto the runway to take off from the Grand Rapids Airport in Michigan. Janice asked me how far away the car dealer was from the airport so we could figure out how much the Uber ride would be. “Good question,” I said. I quickly looked it up on my GPS before the flight attendant saw me and demanded I put my phone on airplane mode. “Oh.” I double checked. “Yup, looks like it’s a four hour drive!”

“What!?” Janice sat up straight in here seat. “I thought you said the truck was close to Fort Lauderdale?”

“Elmer said it was. I never checked!”

As it turned out, we saved $180 on our tickets by flying into Fort Lauderdale instead of Punta Gorda (which was close to the truck) so even with the $84 car rental we came out ahead. Plus we got to drive through the Everglades. I was expecting to be swerving around alligators, driving over 20 foot pythons, and maybe seeing some wild parrots or something; something resembling a tiny version of the Amazon. But all we saw was flooded grass plains. It looked like Indiana after a heavy rain. Oh well, now I know. I’m sure not all the Everglades are the same.

The next day we picked up the truck and then promptly hit the beach in shorts and flip flops. I hopped out into the sunshine. I took a couple sniffs and asked Janice, “Do you smell bacon frying? It smells like bacon.”

“No honey, I don’t smell anything.”

“I hear sizzling too.” I looked down and quickly realized it was just my white toes burning in the Florida sunshine. I smiled. “It’s great to be warm again, isn’t it?”

Janice didn’t answer me but her euphoric tap dancing routine on the hood of the truck said everything I needed to know. It was especially impressive considering she’s thirty three weeks pregnant and was carrying a two year old.

We squeezed our way past all the people polluting the beach front and strolled through the surf. Of course Janice had to carry Adi because Adi hates having her feet in the sand. Did you ever hear of such a thing? We tried over and over to get her to wiggle her toes in the soft, white Florida sand but each time we tried to set her down her knees would come up to her chin in protest. I suspect if we accidentally dropped her she would’ve hovered above the beach. Being on the beach loses its charm if your toddler screams whenever she contacts sand. There’s sand literally everywhere. Despite all this, it was enjoyable just being outside and not freezing to death.

Being on a public beach makes it difficult to be a Christian man. It seems like the closer people get to large bodies of water, the fewer clothes they want to wear. This makes me avert my eyes constantly. By the time I’ve walked a hundred feet I’m cross eyed and dizzy. If I avert my eyes every time I see too much skin I’ll end up stumbling into the ocean and getting swept away to Alaska. Maybe that would be a good thing since there probably wouldn’t be any immodesty on a beach covered in glaciers and polar bears.

Clearly our society needs Jesus. Maybe I could start doing my part by witnessing to folks on the beach. For example, I’d walk up to a woman who is displaying dubious modesty standards (with my eyes closed, of course) and then dump a cooler full of ice water on her. Boom! I’d then hand her a tract on modesty and point her to the changing room where she could begin practically living out the advice I was giving her. This would clear out the beach in short order. Maybe I have ulterior motives though because I hate full beaches and so I’m less concerned about their souls and more concerned about having a large swatch of sand to myself. Also, I may be arrested. Would that be persecution then? I’ll just stick to fixing missionary airplanes and maybe sit in the sandbox in the backyard with my feet in a kiddie pool. Besides, it’s kind of wasteful dumping perfectly good ice all over the beach. I found it’s a good idea to run my ideas past Janice before I implement them. God gave me a wise woman!

We’re driving through Kentucky right now so we only have about six hours to go yet. Adi is feeling a lot better and is back to her old tricks again. Everything is going well and the trip has been uneventful. Oh yea, except that one time where I carefully put everything in the truck and locked it, then found out the the lock didn’t work, and had to call a locksmith to come rescue us. Other than that, it’s going fine.

Plus, Phil (the CEO at MMS Aviation) informed us that we are 64.03% of the way to our support goal! (as of 2/25/19) We have to reach 100% of our support quota before we can move to Ohio and begin our apprenticeship learning to fix and fly missionary aircraft. (more info here) Praise God!

With gratitude,