Adi Sends Posts, Elliot Runs Wild, Family Goes to AirVenture

Pictured Above: Probably one of the prettiest airplanes I think that ever existed (and you can do flips with it too), the Waco YMF-5 Super. Little bit pricey, though.

Family Snapshot. 8/14/2021

Adi is four years old. Elliot is two. Baby Snader #3 is due on October 28, 2021. We’re currently living in Coshocton, OH serving at MMS Aviation. The big A&P test is about 6 months away.

Adi Sends Posts

The other week we were picking berries up at the abandoned golf course here in Coshocton and Janice, after lugging herself and the child in her womb to the top of a hill, loudly exclaimed, “I’m pooped!”

Adi let out an indignant gasp and said, “Mommy! You should poop in the potty!”

We all laughed and had a good time until Elliot got a bee in his shirt and got stung twice. Then we found five ticks crawling on Adi. It was a good life lesson. “They’ll be plenty of times when you’re swinging a bucket, working hard, and finding berries when suddenly bloodsucking parasites will ruin it,” I told Adi. “The best solution is to keep good records. Tax write-offs are like OFF spray for the IRS,” I said.

Adi didn’t seem to fully appreciate my analogy. Janice didn’t seem to either. “Must you always complain about the IRS?” Janice asked. My complaining seems to coincide with quarterly tax payments. But taxes aren’t the only sure thing in life. Saying goodbye will also happen sooner or later.

Elliot’s bucket is empty because Elliot eats the berries faster than you can pick them.

Someone told me that the worst thing about being a missionary kid is that you say a lot of goodbyes. Adi has been dealing with this reality ever since she said goodbye to one of her best friends Zambia. She keeps insisting that we go back. When we tell her we can’t, she says “Oh well, we’ll go tomorrow.” It’s kind of heartbreaking to tell her that we can’t go visit her today, not tomorrow, and probably not for a long time. We try to explain how much tickets cost. “Well,” she says matter-of-factly, “We’ll just go the to the airport and get more money.” Apparently she saw me get money out of the ATM and now she assumes that’s where all our free money comes from.

Maybe it’s because she’s been missing her friend from Africa and her friends from preschool, but Adi had been obsessed with sending out “posts” lately. Thanks to Peppa Pig we now call letters or any object intended to go through the US Postal System a “post.” It’s ok though, it makes us sound more sophisticated. Adi will go through the house filling a box up with toys, books, and even kitchen utensils. Then she’ll scribble all over the box, put stickers on it (she calls them stamps), tape it shut, and put it in front of the tree out beside the road so the mailman will pick it up. She insists that these boxes will make it to her friends in Africa, her grandma, or her school friends and that everyone will be delighted to receive random junk from our house. We’re not convinced that people would like that so we’ve been discreetly intercepting packages and putting the toys back into the toy box. Of course if Adi finds the box she thought she sent to Grandma a week ago, she’s distraught. “Oh no!” She gasps. “Grandma never got her box? Why is it here? Why did mommy open it?” This leads to awkward parenting moments where your child caught you being nice, but also caught you lying. “Well, uh…. maybe Grandma sent the box back so we can fill it up again?” Having smart kids is great but it’s also more work. They can see through your tricks. Maybe we should just tell her the truth. “We can’t just send boxes of junk every day to people we love. It costs us money. Those people won’t love us anymore. And if we give away all our spoons we’ll have to eat soup with our fingers.” Maybe someday I’ll have all the right answers so I won’t have to make them up.

Elliot Runs Wild

Elliot is teething again which means he’s grumpy. I can’t blame him I guess. Far be it from me to discuss poop on my blog but since he’s teething, his poop has been weird and acidic and caused really bad diaper rash. It was good timing I guess, since we had a normal check-up scheduled with his pediatrician. She provided some extra strength ointment and also suggested letting him run around without any diaper on so it could dry out. To Elliot’s delight, he was running free as a bird for several hours. He isn’t potty trained (yet) and so it was about the same as pulling the pin on a grenade and just letting it bounce around the house. It’s really hard to concentrate on anything else when you’re nervously trying to avoid a catastrophic explosion. It was like playing hot potato. No one wanted to hold the poor little guy but at the same time we couldn’t let him out of our sight. “Elliot, stay off the couch!”, “Elliot, get back inside the house!”, “Elliot, stay off the carpet!”, “Elliot, do you have to poop? No? Yes!? Aggh! Come quick!”

AirVenture

A week ago we packed up the minivan and drove to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to attend the last few days of EAA’s (Experimental Aircraft Association) AirVenture, a huge gathering of aviation enthusiasts. This year there was 602,000 attendees. 10,000 airplanes arrived and departed the airfield (this included the 3,176 show aircraft that were on display) and an estimated 40,000 visitors camped on the grounds. We were one of the those unlucky few who literally slept on the ground.

Why were we in Oshkosh? Well, we planned on going last year simply for the experience but then they cancelled AirVenture due to a pandemic or something like that. This year it was back on again! But in reality, we weren’t planning on going. We traveled a lot this year already and it wasn’t worth the time or money to go. Plus, traveling that far with children and a pregnant wife is no joke. What’s the saying? A fool dances where angels fear to tread? However, my attitude soon changed because we are in communication with a mission organization called Samaritan Aviation and they wanted to us to come say “Hi.”

Currently Samaritan has a 206 here in the states that was recently outfitted and is destined for the island nation of Papua New Guinea. But first, it’s making its rounds in a publicity campaign. They were making a stop at Oshkosh. Mark Palm, the founder of Samaritan Aviation, had suggested that we come and see their booth. At first I was unmoved because I thought, “Well, come on. I’ve seen 206’s before and I met Mark before. I’m not sure what this would gain.” Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go but I’m a practical guy unless, of course, I have a compelling emotional reason not to be.

I’m a practical guy unless, of course, I have a compelling emotional reason not to be.

Several weeks later Mark suggested we come, not just to see him or the airplane, but to meet a lot of the other missionary families that serve with them. As it turns out, the scheduling worked so that quite a few of the families we’d potentially be serving with would be there at Oshkosh. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to meet them. Wisconsin is a lot closer than Papua New Guinea, after all. There was one sticking point: that pesky budget. We weren’t planning on the trip and I was torn. So was the budget. Should we have faith and just go? Or should we be responsible adults and stay? We decided to go. God’s will doesn’t lack God’s resources. That’s easy to say now, but the night after we decided to go I was asking Janice if we were stupid. More specifically, if I was stupid. “Am I really having faith or do I just want to go to Oshkosh and I’m just justifying it?” She assured me that I’m the smartest person in the world and that if I wasn’t, God would work it out. So far God’s been the one working it out. Janice is good at acting like I’m the genius when I’m actually just following her advice. She said she was fine with sleeping in a tent for a few nights, even though she’s pregnant. I wasn’t worried about Adi and Elliot. They can sleep even if they’re inverted, twisted into a pretzel, and hanging from a light fixture. We were going to Oshkosh!

So when your knees are knocking and your timidly taking little steps forward all the while praying like crazy, it simply means you’re doing it right.

The very next day we received a check in the mail for $500 from a family who’s never financially given before. They may read this blog and know I’m talking about them. Thank you! We were all blown away! I was told by a retired missionary that the proper response to God’s call is a courageous availability and a growing dependence on him. I was also told that being courageous doesn’t mean you’re not scared – it means you do what you’re supposed to do anyway. So when your knees are knocking and your timidly taking little steps forward all the while praying like crazy, it simply means you’re doing it right.

We excitedly left for Oshkosh early on a Thursday morning. There is a town that is temporarily put together complete with street names and stores. The campsites fill up on a first come, first serve basis. Since we came at the end of the week, we drove several “blocks” before we found an abandoned desolate strip of grass with the road on one side and poison ivy on the other. It was perfect! Mostly because no one else was camping on it. We set up camp, found the closest Porta-Potties and shower house, made our butterflies comfortable, and settled in.

Our amazing campsite with a view of … other campsites. Once we were in the grounds, our bikes and feet were the main source of transportation.

Butterflies? Yes. We had purchased three caterpillars from a lady at a butterfly exhibit and were attempting to “hatch” our own butterflies since I guess the ones flying out in our yard weren’t good enough for us. This wasn’t a get-rich-quick scheme like most of my schemes, this was actually just educational. We’ve been explaining the butterfly life cycle to Adi and trying to convince her that these ugly little worms were going to turn into butterflies! She didn’t seem convinced. It is pretty hard to believe such ugly things can become anything worthwhile. Sure enough after a few days they each built a chrysalis and were hanging from the lid of our little butterfly cage. Of course, like most of my schemes, the timing turned out to be all wrong and it looked like the butterflies would “hatch” while were gone for the weekend. We decided to take them along with us so we hung the little butterfly cage from our rearview mirror. In my research I found that once a caterpillar is in its chrysalis, it actually turns to liquid and reforms into a butterfly. Absolutely astonishing. Of course, this raised the question, if they’re bouncing and swinging wildly from our rearview mirror, will the caterpillar liquid get all stirred up like a shaken bottle of Coke? If you’re shaking the chrysalis while it’s forming, will the butterfly come out with its feet where the wings should be? It’s been at least fifteen days by now and there isn’t one chrysalis that has hatched yet. I had to superglue one chrysalis back to the lid of the cage. That can’t be healthy for it. Anyway, we must have messed something up. The outlook is pretty dismal for the local Painted Lady butterfly population. Still, I may save a chrysalis and encase it in epoxy so we can examine it under a microscope. That would be educational and not make my butterfly class look like such a failure.

Our emotional support insects coming along for the ride.

But fortunately our priority wasn’t raising butterflies, it was to meet and hang out with Samaritan Aviation staff. While I did have my camera gear along I found myself too distracted to use it much. We did a whole lot of walking and having a camera and a camera bag is like lugging another child around. It demands your attention, you can’t leave it unattended, and its weight increases rapidly once you begin walking.

It’s hard work looking at airplanes, eating ice cream, and being pushed around all day.

Despite that, our trip was a success because we did get to know people from Samaritan. It’s no longer an organization, it’s a collection of people in my mind. They are genuine, sincere people who have given up a lot to follow God’s call and are accomplishing something many people told them was absolutely impossible. It was an honor to meet them and learn more about their mission in Papua New Guinea.

Adi rocking a Samaritan Aviation hat. It looks better on her than it does on me. Then again, she’s not going to go bald in ten years like I probably will. I kept the hat for myself.

Samaritan Aviation

Samaritan Aviation is aptly named because they are a living translation of the parable of the Good Samaritan. They serve an area roughly the size of Mississippi in Papua New Guinea (that little island north of Australia). A 700 mile winding river called the Sepik winds through it and near the river is the only hospital in that whole area. It can take a distressed mother experiencing birth complications or a child caught in the merciless grip of malaria up to five days in a canoe on a dangerous river to reach it. As you can imagine, that usually results in tragedy. Just like Jesus used medical miracles to give hope to the lost and forgotten people of his day, Samaritan Aviation is giving people in remote regions of PNG hope and access to modern medicine and the results are miraculous! Samaritan Aviation utilizes float planes to fly up and down the river picking up people who are in dire need and giving them a free flight to the hospital, no strings attached. This cuts the several day trip down to just an hour or less. This saves lives and to remote tribespeople who have never seen electricity or cars before, it’s nothing short of miraculous! But Samaritan’s ministry doesn’t stop once patients reach the hospital. It is traditional for the family of the patient to provide food and toiletries during a hospital stay. Since many of Samaritan’s patients have been flown so far from their families, they are left without food, basic necessities, and a comforting presence during their stay. So, just like the parable of the Good Samaritan, Samaritan Aviation provides for their hospital stay as well by giving food, clothing, trauma counseling, grief counseling, and even hygiene and nutrition classes for new mothers. In this way Samaritan shares the Good News of Jesus Christ with the patient who has never been in a better position to hear it.

This is a map showing you just how much time the Samaritan Aviation saves people who are in dire medical need. There’s no question they save lives and, more importantly, souls!
Samaritan Aviation’s amphibious 206. A beautiful plane!

The neat thing about this style of operation is that these actions translate particularly well in Papua New Guinea. Apparently there is no word for “love” in their language. Since the language is related in a story form, you would describe love instead of merely saying the word. If you tell them that “Jesus loves you” that wouldn’t mean anything. But if you show them what love means, then they understand. There is no better illustration of love to a hurting person than the free ride you just gave them to save their lives. This example is vivid in their minds as they lay helpless on a hospital bed, a recipient of such generosity. This helps them see God’s love in a way they understand in their culture. They understand it and it’s powerful!

Please continue to pray for us as we start knocking on doors and stepping into opportunities. We are nothing without God’s guidance. Thank you!

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2 thoughts on “Adi Sends Posts, Elliot Runs Wild, Family Goes to AirVenture

Add yours

  1. Hello, buddy. Once again enjoyed reading your recent blog. Guess my prayers in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep are having an affect on your Spiritual Life and you’re learning on following God’s leading. Happy for you. My pastor would relate many stories about God’s provisions many times while stepping out in faith. Have been familiar with Sam. Purse for sometime and their ministry. Mission aviation is a Great field. Always wanted to go to Oshkosh but never worked out. Glad your family enjoyed it. Kids grow up fast, you’ll see. Anyway, God bless, guide and protect you all. Hope you do well on the A&P. You’ll pass.

    1. Thanks Steve for the encouragement! Samaritan Aviation isn’t actually affiliated with Samaritan’s Purse. It’s a common mistake. And yes, it’s very humbling to be on the receiving end of such generosity.

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