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Thirteen years ago this fall, I stepped off his porch, tears streaming down my cheeks. I tried to hold back the sobs until I could get safely in the front seat of the van.
I was about to leave for Asia Pacific for the first time, and I didn’t know when I would return. I know I have mentioned in previous articles that, as foreign missionaries, we miss family the most, but at that point I felt like I was saying goodbye for good. With him being 89 years old, there just weren’t any guarantees that the next time I walked up those steps he would be there sitting in his rocking chair.
Wade Snyder is my grandfather. He has been a constant in my life for all my 43 years. He lives on his daddy’s farm, and there weren’t many years of his life not lived there. He tells about the few years he worked as a coal miner in Kentucky and how it was a huge step of faith to move back to the farm to help his parents. Being a farmer means living crop to crop with nonexistent monthly paychecks. However, he is just about the hardest worker I know.
He provided well for his family, and I can remember that he would be down at the barn long before my little 10-year-old eyes would wake up. Even until recent years, it wouldn’t be uncommon to hear that he was helping mow someone’s field. He led singing at Baker’s Gap Baptist Church for most of my life. It was in that church that I first remember thinking long and hard about my sinful condition before a holy God. His life has been spent in quiet service to his family and neighbors, and there are countless lessons to learn from his life—some I am just discovering.
We are currently home in the States for a home assignment, and we just returned from a two-week road trip. On one of our stops, we visited the farm. My sweet Papaw, now 101 years old, was still there waiting for me. He greeted me with a big hug and told me that the night before he dreamed that I walked up the porch with a big smile on my face. It was just about the sweetest thing he could have said to me. Even when a person is 101 years old, their dreams can still come true!
We had a great time on the farm. The boys looked for crayfish in the creek, walked through the cow pasture to hunt in the woods, and explored the farm on my uncle David’s four-wheeler. The county my grandfather lives in was once known as the Green Bean Capital of the World. You probably didn’t know there was a green bean capital of the world. Well, they are known for their green-bean-growing abilities, and I think they are some of the best green beans I have ever eaten. So naturally, we strung beans on the porch and waved to anyone who drove by (a very cultural practice).
Speaking of eating, my aunt and uncle moved back to the farm soon after my grandmother passed away, and Aunt Charlotte is a wonderful cook. Any one of her meals on the farm is guaranteed to consist of at least one meat and four sides, cornbread or rolls, fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, sliced melon, and several desserts. Breakfast includes biscuits and sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, homemade jellies, and fruit. We were spoiled, to say the least, and we spent plenty of time talking and catching up.
My papaw is in great health, still getting around well, still eating great, still sharp as a tack. He even still drives his truck around now and again! I feel so blessed that the Lord has allowed me to see my papaw again! Our plans are to go visit him again in a few months on his 102nd birthday!
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