N926JG 4-Place Bearhawk with Poly-Fiber covering and seam tapes
Top: The Bearhawk is covered in a base layer of Poly-Brush. Poly-Brush is a vinyl based paint that seals the weave of the fabric and makes it weatherproof.

One of my excuses I was giving to God whenever I felt the tug to pursue an apprenticeship at MMS Aviation was that I am more of a creative person, not a disciplined, calculator toting, analytical engineer who worries over the differences between a #3 or a #4 rivet. Who cares? Get a hammer and smack that rivet in there! An attitude like that doesn’t produce a good aviation technician and so I recused myself from God’s talent search, convinced that I didn’t have the skills required to be very useful.

Josh Snader blog - applying silver Poly-Spray to 4-place Bearhawk N9246JG
 I’m applying a silver UV blocker which keeps sunlight from breaking down the polyester fabric.

First, rivets are not typically driven with a hammer. Second, God knew me better than I knew myself. Eventually God convinced me to get over my excuses and apply for the apprenticeship. Fast forward a year or two and I’m finding that an artistic gifting actually has a place in the hangar. Take the Bearhawk that we are just starting to re-assemble as an example. I had the opportunity to cut the fabric pieces, glue them on the fuselage, and then finish it by painting on the various coatings, stripes, and tail numbers. I’ve had several people comment that they do not like fabric work and they do not like painting; too much “Arts and Crafts” for their liking. I love Arts and Crafts! It was right down my alley. God knew that there is a place for people like me in the world of mission aviation. I had no idea!

Decals don’t last long in the hot Haitian sun and so we taped off the registration numbers and used paint. This is a lot of work!

Now don’t misunderstand me; I’m not God’s gift to aviation. I think aviation has been God’s gift to me and I’m still unwrapping it. I have never felt more stupid than I did in the first six months of my apprenticeship. There’s so much I don’t know! But I know this is where God wants us and it’s a thrill to be involved in His plan to reach the world.

Obviously there’s more to aviation maintenance than arts and crafts projects but here’s the thing: You can learn new things! And I’m finding that I love the technical aspect of my training more than I thought possible. Corrosion is actually a fascinating process. Electricity is like math running through a wire; it’s amazing that we can harness the power of some of the smallest things known to man (electrons) and make them do big things. I love how, as an aviation mechanic, your job is to learn how God’s creation works so you can help people fly. Isn’t that a cool job? And the ability to fly opens up access to the world like never before. We can get into the deepest darkest jungle in mere hours when it used to take days. There’s never been an easier time to reach the world with the good news that the Son of God was born in a manger, lived a perfect life, and died for the sins of people like me and you. Billions still need to hear the story of Christmas!

We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.

Oswald J. Smith
The finished fuselage!

In the last month we moved to a new house, dealt with a teething baby, had a major sewer backup (more about that on our blog), packed our house full of visitors for Thanksgiving, and then caught a stomach bug for good measure.

We’re not complaining (much) because we’re blessed to be here in Ohio and we’re excited to be living in our new house, in town, close to the hangar. My commute is so short that a tank of gas will last me almost a month! Janice likes that I get home sooner as well.

This newsletter finds us preparing to travel to Pennsylvania to have Christmas with both sides of the family but before the hustle, bustle, and travel, we decided to have our own little family Christmas time. We grew up with Christmas traditions but we are still in the process of creating our own. What do we want our children to remember?Since Adi loves birthday cakes (it’s literally all she talks about some days), Janice had the idea to make a birthday cake for Jesus topped with a sparkler in the shape of a star. I thought it was a great way to remind our children what Christmas is really about. We gathered around, sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, and opened presents.

Top Left: Adi monkeys around on the sofa while Elliot admires her gymnastic abilities. Elliot will laugh and laugh every time Adi jumps off the sofa.

Top Right: Elliot sits proudly on his nifty ride. He’s too little to really push it yet but he still climbs around on it.

Bottom Left: Janice made Jesus a birthday cake! We couldn’t fit 2019 candles on it so we just stuck a star sparkler on the top.

Bottom Right: In a rare moment, I managed to put two sick children to sleep at once!


Janice has been potty training Adi and that’s stressing everyone out. Adi is doing pretty well with #1’s but #2’s are still a problem. We’re so committed to keeping a routine that we put a small portable toilet in the van and take it with us everywhere we go. Adi has no excuse to miss a pit stop! Elliot tries to push Adi off the toilet if we let him and that causes all kinds of drama so there’s a lot of moving parts to orchestrate each time we go through a pit stop.

Janice was really itching to decorate for Christmas but the budget didn’t allow her to buy a tractor trailer load of garland and rustic decor. This meant we had to get creative. We spent a Sunday afternoon driving around back roads and lopping evergreen sprigs from unsuspecting trees. Janice did the legwork and I was the getaway driver! Our house now has some fresh, beautiful wreaths full of holiday spirit and it only cost about as much as a gallon of gas.

Last week I reached 1,000 hours in my logbook! This means we’re about 1/5 of the way through our apprenticeship already (I need to reach 4,800 hours before I can test for my FAA exams). I cannot believe how fast the time is going! We’ll be done here before I even get my head to stop spinning. Continue to pray that God will prepare us for our next destination, wherever in the world that will be. I know we’re right where God wants us but I’m not sure where He’ll call us to go next. We’ll wait and see. 

From a little hamlet in Ohio,

Josh