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The other day I thought, “It’s been awhile since I wrote a blog.” I looked at the date of the last post. It’s been over a month! Where has the time gone? Well, we’ve been busy here in our little hamlet.

Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs)

I recently completed the chapter on avionics. It was a tough one but I really do appreciate that someone is sternly sitting me down and forcing me to read this stuff. Let’s be honest, it’s hard shoveling the mud of incomprehensible gibberish into a sluice and cleaning it until you find the mother lode of knowledge. But I love knowing how these mysterious things work. Radio waves, transistors, diodes, VOR systems, di-pole antennas, HSIs, MFDs, ELT’s and all the other TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) you have to know in this business. The more experience I gain here, the more I’m convinced this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s a blast! But it is work. A lot of work. Work is good though. Work produces meaningful things. There’s no bigger blessing than performing work you enjoy to produce something that matters. Still, it’s hard to blog when I’m sinking a lot of time into studying.

Newtons First Law and parenting

When I’m not studying, there’s family drama to sort out. And by sorting out I mean trying to be a good parent. You have to take each annoying act by your children and run it through your logic processor. Do I like what Adi is doing? No. Is it punishable? Maybe. Which level of punishment does it require? A finger wagging? A pinch? A swat? A time-out? It’s Newtons First Law. Any motion in object tends to stay in motion. This is true with children. To change your child’s direction, you have to exert more effort than they are exerting, and kids are capable of exerting a lot of effort. That means as parents who want to influence our children’s trajectory we need to have more energy than them although sometimes a child will learn quite a bit if you just let their trajectory stay the same. “See! I told you not to jump off the porch like that! Maybe now you’ll learn!”

This is why parents are always tired.

Adi hates dirt more than physical pain.

The other day the children were playing with the hose and were busying watering flowers, rocking chairs, the van, and the sliding board. We have a little sliding board beside the porch steps going down into our backyard. Adi is used to it being dry and not very slippery and so imagine her surprise when she casually sat down on the wet slide, broke the sound barrier, and slid halfway across the yard on her face! Physics! She started producing the sound of a bomb dropping from 30,000 feet. My heart went out to her. Only a child in mortal agony can make sounds like that! I rushed over to her to provide comfort and band-aids.

There’s large tears rolling down her face as she looks down at her clothes. “Dirty! I’m dirty! WAAAH!” Her mind is freaking out because of the dirt on her clothes. Forget about her face! Faces can be fixed with Band-Aids. But not dirty clothing! Adi has developed this annoying habit of changing her clothes every single time they get a little wet or dirty. She will sneak upstairs, all on her own, and change her entire outfit, even her underwear. We’ll find piles of laundry lying around the upstairs. Of course, that could be a ghost throwing clothes around since apparently our house is haunted.

There ain’t no ghost like the Holy Ghost.

We found out our house may be haunted several months ago when we were walking home from church. Tilly and Tommy* were on their porch drinking beer at 12 o’clock in the afternoon, and apparently had started long before that. There was an African American gentleman sitting beside them. We nodded and waved. Tommy said “Hi. How ya’ll doing?”

“Fine,” we said. “Nice day.”

“Yea. You guys live in the yellow house right down the street?” Tilly asked.

“Yea.”

“Do you notice any weird stuff happening?” Tommy asked. “I heard that the house is haunted, especially the upstairs.”

That’s a pretty specific location. “Uh, no. I haven’t really noticed anything weird.” I shrugged my shoulders. I did notice that no matter how often I turn off the fans and lights upstairs, they are always on again later in the day. Maybe our house is haunted by a ghost that works for the power company.

The African American gentleman, who wasn’t drinking, rolled his eyes, formed an imaginary bottle with his right hand, and pretended to chug from it. “There always like this when they drink.”

Tommy introduced his sober friend. “That’s Black Herman,” he said. “He hangs around here sometimes.”

I waved. “Uh, hi there… Herman.” Surely there aren’t so many Hermans in the neighborhood that we have to start distinguishing them by their race.

Herman seemed amused at my politically correct filter. I’ve seen him around quite a bit since. He’s a very friendly man and a great neighbor to have.

Anyway, I didn’t think much of the whole conversation until that evening when the house was creaking and groaning and I got up in the middle of the night to wander through the upstairs to the bathroom. Suddenly the drunk neighbor’s haunted theory seemed very plausible.

Janice and I decided right then and there we’d show the ghosts a thing or two. We prayed through every room, even the basement (since that’s the spookiest part of the house) and evicted our house of any supernatural, unwelcome squatters. It’s bad enough having tenants that don’t pay rent, it’s even worse if they’re the evil, metaphysical kind. I don’t know why we’re so hesitant to acknowledge spiritual warfare is real. Maybe because it makes us sound a little bit crazy. It is wild to think that we’re part of a supernatural war that’s been going on since the dawn of time.

It started to make sense why this house was so cheap. And maybe why the previous owners had torn it down to the studs and rebuilt a lot of it. And why they couldn’t sell it. Maybe God himself haunted the house to get the previous occupants out and so we could buy it. People have certainly noticed what we’ve been doing to the house. We’ve had at least (not joking) eight or nine people just stop on the street, roll down their windows, and tell us they love what we’ve done to the place. We basically replaced the porch and mow the yard regularly. I guess in Coshocton that stands out. It makes me really wonder how bad this place looked or what kind of people lived here before it was renovated and sold. Who knows?

Killing slugs.

Then again, maybe the previous owners just got tired of having slugs in their backyard. Ghosts are one thing but slugs are quite another. Every night, a slug army oozes out of the dark corners of the yard and commence partying. They eat Janice’s flowers and vegetables and generally drive down the property values. One night Janice had enough! She grabbed a pair of tongs and a bucket and lovingly convinced me to help her hunt slugs. It was impressive how she just threw me over her shoulder and carried me outside. “You know, Janice,” I said as I bounced up and down on her shoulder, “Lettuce is really cheap. This drama is unnecessary.” I have too much drama in my life already.

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Janice said.

We threw 40 or so slugs into a bucket that evening. A bucket of slugs is disgusting. You know that sound that a cow makes when it licks a salt block? A bucket of slugs moving around sounds like that.

“How do we ethically kill 40 slugs?” I ask. I was half expecting Janice to torture them individually until they gave up the locations of their friends and families.

“Dump salt in there?” she suggested. Yea, that’s the classic method of slug murder but it seems a little slow and cruel. Slugs are ugly and stupid but being ugly and stupid aren’t grounds for a slow death, thank goodness.

“How about boiling water?” I asked. It’s cheap, effective, and very fast. It certainly did the trick except that when it’s all over it smells like a bad batch of fish soup. It’s also very hard to clean slime out of a bucket. Anyway, at least now we can successfully raise $0.45 worth of lettuce in our backyard.

Adi is off to Montessori preschool.

One day we realized that Adi doesn’t have enough friends. There were other families with children who lived nearby and Adi loved playing with them but those families all ran off to foreign countries. It’s not like they were running from the IRS or anything, it’s just where the Lord called them. Such is the life of a missionary. Anyway, we decided to send Adi to a Montessori preschool that a local church runs during the week. This way Adi can have more social interaction with local kids and maybe establish some more stable friendships. Plus, Janice will get a break a few days every week. If you’re not familiar with Montessori, it’s basically an education centered around hands-on work activities that help children learn to be organized and to tackle a task in a goal specific way. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not a teacher there. God bless them. Most of the teachers have been at the preschool for a decade or more and love their jobs. I take that as a good reflection of the quality of education Adi will receive.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Speaking of friends, we’re really excited to have a new MMS family moving in right across the street from us. The house was up for sale for many years. The new family had raised enough support to move to Coshocton and word reached us that they were looking for a house. One day Janice said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the new family lived across the street? They should buy that house.” Janice started praying for just that.

And guess what?! They just closed on the house today and already have a U-Haul parked in the driveway with all their stuff!

Until next time,

Josh

3 thoughts on “Slugs, Haunted Houses, & Indecisive Children

  1. You are a compelling writer! These stories kept us very informed and entertained all at the same time! Praying for your family still. It was a blessing to meet you and spend time with your family.

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  2. As always I enjoyed reading your newsletter! It was great to see you at church recently, I apologize for not having time to visit with you as Sundays tend to be very full of comments and questions. Next time if you think of it let me know ahead of time so I am not so startled as if I saw a ghost of my own. Ha ha!

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    1. Yes, we will try and do that. I wanted to say hi and have a meaningful conversation but there’s just too many fine folks around there so it’s hard to say hi to all of them.

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